A People Who Play

This week’s blog is intended to be a break from the philosophical to talk about the things I truly love about the kiwi people.

For those of you who have traveled out of your country or out of your state or even out of your county, you know that people from different corners of the world often talk differently, think differently, and act differently. It’s part of what makes traveling so exciting and migrating so challenging. Living in New Zealand culture has been challenging at times with lots of jokes that have been answered with strange looks instead of laughs, remembering to keep left when driving and crossing the street(you only make that mistake once!), and other learning moments. Overshadowing the moments of strife, though, are the many ways in which the kiwi people have inspired me.

The number one thing I’ve noticed and adored is that kiwi people like to play. Not just the kids, though they do as well, but all of them. Why sit around and debate politics and make banter when instead we could go boogie-boarding or surfing or cliff jumping? Most Sundays before church, we play soccer, and meeting for a picnic says more about the frisbee that will be played than the sandwiches and watermelon. In the mornings the weather is checked to see if it’s a fishing, paddle-boarding, or wind-surfing kind of day, and if the sun is out, so is every person in their right mind. Though I’m not exactly athletically inclined, I love this about the kiwi people, and I believe they love it about themselves. They are outdoors people, and their country is their playground.

My second thing I love is their love for holiday time. After spending a summer in New Zealand, I can say with reasonable certainty that holiday time here is a must. Everyone goes away for at least 4 days, the barbecue is in constant use, and the beaches are packed at all times. Now, you may think this sounds very familiar to what you’ve always known summer to be like, but I’d gently remind you of one thing: I’m living around the largest city in the country. Even here in Auckland things slow down. No matter whether you live downtown or in the country, you pack up your gear and head somewhere beautiful to enjoy the people close to you and the beautiful country around you. Shops close down for a couple of weeks, and people generally live at a different, more relaxed pace. This is different from what I’d come to expect at home. I thought the age of properly relaxing and sabbath-ing had come and gone. I thought conventional weekends had become a thing of the past and that the world had become completely instantaneous and forgotten the value of not working ourselves into the ground. New Zealanders remember, and they refuse to work at the disadvantage of quality of life. This brings me to my last point of appreciation, an intolerance of prejudice.

Before coming here, I had never questioned the hierarchy of occupation. Well, not really questioned it. After living here for 6 months, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s highly unnecessary, even counterproductive. The kiwi people have taught me that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you enjoy it and put forth your best effort. The amount of money you make or have does not determine your value as a person. Now go back, and read that again. No one cares if you’re a plumber, teacher, CEO, janitor, engineer, waiter, or unicorn trainer. The kiwis are gifted when it comes to finding their value in things other than their occupation. In addition to these things, they have a better relationship with their native peoples than any country I’ve seen or read about. The Maoris are treated as well as any other nationality here, with respect and kindness. The whole world could take notes on how to treat those who don’t look like you from NZ. The European and Maori cultures work together to form a beautiful fusion, something seen in every meeting, rugby game, and person. This is seen easily every time the national anthem is sung, as it is done in both native Maori and English(listen below).


All this to say I’m doing lots, learning lots, and enjoying every minute of it.

Eliza Edge
Resident in Mission with WME


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