Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

Mobile telephone network ‘2degrees’ launched in New Zealand three years ago with kiwi comedian Rhys Darby as the face of the brand. It was probably the best decision they could have made. In 2012 his ads are still going strong and still hilarious.

Lots of people know Rhys from his role in the Flight of the Conchords’ series on HBO. Like in his stand-up, FotC character Murray Hewitt uses a great high-pitched New Zealand accent as he makes jokes about kiwis and the NZ way of life. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – and Rhys sticks to his winning formula in the ads for 2degrees, which feature him as an hilariously oddball (yet somehow “everyman”) kiwi bloke. Like Murray, his 2degrees persona is wacky, lovable and clueless.

2degrees wants to keep New Zealand talking, so get off your MyFace and FriendBook pages, stop twatter-bleeping, and have a good old-fashioned chinwag. For free!

The ads featuring Rhys show him in a various of NZ situations but always with a (totally mental) twist. Even the animated ads for mobile plans for which Rhys provides the voice-over typically take a turn for the ridiculous. Like the “Pay Monthly” ad featuring small business owners Ben and Bernie, which ends with 2degrees customer Ben throwing a staff party and Bernie running off to join the French foreign legion.

C’mon, Bernie – five years and you’ll get a beret. Sacrebleu!

I really like the Christmas ads each year (though the one with the detachable arms was pretty weird), especially the one featuring Rhys in his knitted jumper with a kiwi on his lap and his pronunciation of “the original name for NZ” in the language of the native wood pigeon.

Like an old lady’s slipper – with a beak

My favourite ad to date has to be the one with the joke about Cambridge. It just highlights the fact that we’re laughing at ourselves – but really we still know we’re the best in the world :p

With 2degrees you can stay close to your mates for only 44c a minute. Whether they’re in Cambridge England, Cambridge Australia, or actual Cambridge, here in New Zealand.

I was reminded once again of Rhys’ genius when I went to see The Dark Knight Rises and the pre-show “cellphones off” message came courtesy of 2degrees.

Aaaah… you’re at the movies. It’s time to relax. Imagine you’re a bear, hibernating in a cosy cave. You’ve slowed your heart rate down to one beat per year. Every year you sleep you get older, but you look younger. Because you’re a wise young bear who’s moisturised long before you’ve needed to.


…just, what?? Love, love, love. And to top it all off, a reference to every kiwi kid’s fave movie lollies:

Alright, wake up now, bear! You’ve dropped your Tangy Fruits pottle!

Oh Rhys, how you made me yearn for a plastic pottle of Tangy Fruits!

If you’d like to watch some of Rhys’ ads for 2degrees you can find them on their YouTube channel.

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At the beginning of this month there was a really interesting incident in NZ-US relations in Hawaii.

NZ Navy frigate Te Kaha and tanker Endeavour

In light of the June 19 Washington Declaration signed by the two countries and the first significant joint training exercises between the United States and New Zealand military in decades, New Zealand was invited to join RIMPAC, (Rim of the Pacific exercise, the largest maritime warfare exercise in the world) for the first time in 28 years. However on arrival in Honolulu the NZ ships, Te Kaha and Endeavour, were the only ships not allowed to enter the military port of Pearl Harbour and instead had to dock at the nearby commercial port. The reason for this is NZ’s anti-nuclear stance, in that the U.S. doesn’t like it.

The Riverman has a really good post explaining the history of this disagreement.

In 1985*, citing its nuclear-free policy, New Zealand denied port access to the American destroyer Buchanan because the Navy would neither confirm nor deny that the ship was nuclear armed.

In response, the US banned all NZ military vessels from its ports and “ended most bilateral activites”. So the US doesn’t respect NZ’s anti-nuclear policies and basically threw its toys. Now, almost three decades later the Japanese who directly attacked Pearl Harbour in the Second World War and the Russians, also enemies of the US during the Cold War, are welcomed into Pearl Harbour. The Kiwis, allies of the US in two World Wars, having served in the US’s war in Afghanistan, currently taking a “how high?” attitude in regard to the (NZ resident) Kim Dotcom case and continually striving for ever-closer trade agreements with the US, are banned.


Like a slightly incredulous article on Celsias points out, apparently worse than bombing and attacking them, the US cannot forgive a country who holds a different opinion to theirs on nuclear weapons.

apparently it takes a lot more than that to ever make up for expressing your own views in the foreign policy area on nuclear weapons.

Although according to Riverman, altogether 22 nations, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are taking part in RIMPAC 2012, New Zealand is the only country not allowed to dock in Pearl Harbour. As Riverman puts it, it is

A case of the Kiwis having their meals in the kitchen, not out in the dining room with the Ruskies and others.

NZ warships near Aloha Towers, in the tourist part of the port of Honolulu

True, apparently US military ships aren’t allowed to enter NZ ports either, but this is because they refuse to say whether or not they carry nuclear weapons, which is against our “policy” (read beliefs, ethics) as a nation. A One News article reports Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman as saying

New Zealand was not prepared to change its policy and so had not expected the US to change its policy.

I think that’s really big of NZ, because I feel that we really have  a right to refuse access to ships carrying nuclear material into our own country, whereas the US is just kind of sulking.

Now I don’t feel too strongly in favour of the military in principle, but I do like seeing reports of the NZ military taking peacekeeping or reconstruction roles in conflicts. It seems weird caring so much about what is essentially military politics but I think the anti-nuclear issue goes close to the heart of who NZ is, or at least who I want us to be. Tracy Watkins reminds us that

It was US bullying that hardened New Zealand attitudes over the nuclear-free legislation in the first place, after all. Kiwis instinctively rebelled against the notion the US could tell them what to do.

In a strange way I feel a kind of perverse pride at our ships being excluded from Pearl Harbour. Yeah, that’s right – New Zealand! Nuclear Free! It’s what the people of NZ fought for the ’70s and 80’s and what we continue to believe in.

1976 anti-nuclear protest in Auckland; from the Dominion Post site on Stuff.co.nz

That’s not to say that we can rest on our laurels. We cannot depend on prime minister John “I’d-do-anything-for-money” Key and his cabinet to uphold this important part of our national identity. As a recent article in the Dominion Post points out it takes continual dedication to remain a world leader in disarmament and arms control and to maintain our anti-nuclear credentials. The article describes how last year  the separate portfolio of Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control was discarded by the government after the retirement of the last minister Georgina te Heuheu.

The move to disestablish the disarmament minister is inconsistent with the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, which promotes and encourages our “active and effective contribution to the essential process of disarmament and international arms control”.

Who knew? No one, really. These days as a country our “green” policies are being threatened and overruled at such a rate by a government obsessed with economic growth at the cost of almost all else, particularly social and environmental policy, that it’s hard to keep up with it all. We should probably be more up-in-(no)arms like we used to be.


Please don’t judge us by our pathetic, grovelling prime minister. You want to be on the side that condones nuclear warfare? That’s your issue. But I’m proud to be on the side that’s snubbed by a global superpower for wanting peace.

All I can say is:

Photograph by anti-nuclear protest photographer Gil Hanly; from the NZ Maritime Museum website

[*Note that 1985 was the same year that the French government blew up the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour for its continuous protests against their nuclear testing in the Pacific.]

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Drink driving ads have always freaked me out. Some of them have been terrible, and some have been based around pretty cool ideas (like the “mate-mate-mate-Dave” one). But Waka Kotohi, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) recently released a new drink driving ad that lots of people are talking about.

The ad features a Maori teenager (who shall be known as “Legend”) at a party where he can see that his sober driver mate (George) is really “wasted” and not fit to drive them home.

The ad follows the guy’s internal moral debate as he tries to decide what to do. He doesn’t want to look “dumb”, but he thinks about what would happen if his friend was killed. He imagines that he’d have to move in with George’s lame family, and that Ghost George would haunt him for the rest of his life, tempting him with delicious ghost takeaways.

Ghost George: Wanna chip?
Legend: You know I can’t grab your ghost chips.

The ad is pretty slick and looks more like a (really) short film than an ad by the NZTA. Which I’m sure is what they were going for. The lighting, cuts, use of slow motion, music and humour – it’s just really cool. It’s probably the first drink driving ad in the world by a government agency that’s really hip.

I love lots of things about this ad: the spotlight on Legend to show his separation and internal conflict at the party, everyone’s sweet accents, dead George’s brother’s hair, the awesome editing of the clip, but my favourite thing is in the party scenes near the end when one of the chicks does a wicked slo-mo party pukana.

According to the NZTA website, over 40% of all drink-driving crashes involve drunk drivers under the age of 24 years and in 2008-2010 38% of the drunk drivers under the age of 24 were Maori. So I guess an ad featuring Maori young people makes sense. Pity it came too late for the ad awards. Legend.

Watch the ad on the NZTA website.

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I think this is a really cool election poster. The wordplay on “richer”, the cute (Maori?) kid in the green shirt, the idyllic but not tourist-y natural green setting.

Well played.

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It’s that time of the year again and whether you’re getting your booklist sorted for heading back to school or looking out for some awesome summer reading, before you head out to Whitcoull’s or Borders try searching GoodBooksNZ.co.nz. Good Books is an online bookshop run by the charity Oxfam, which works against poverty and inequality in communities in over 100 countries around the world.

I’ve been using Good Books to order some of the novels that I plan to use for my uni studies this year, and I’ve found that not only is their selection as good, sometimes better, than that of Borders and Whitcoull’s, but their prices are much cheaper. The site’s really easy to use, with just one field to use to search by title, ISBN or author, and I actually found their ‘Tips’ section handy when I got stuck once.

 Every time anyone buys a book through the Good Books website, 100% of the retail profit from every sale goes to support communities in need through Oxfam projects.

I really like the feel of the site and having everything in NZ$ is really nice. Plus it’s nice knowing that you’re helping a good cause, by doing something you have to do anyway, and probably for a better price than you would’ve got it otherwise. Delivery is free and the only downside is that you’ll have to wait 7-14 working days for delivery (from either the UK, US or Germany), however this is pretty much the same as Whitcoull’s, which has a delivery time of 10-12 days.

No one at Good Books is paid and we have zero operating costs. All time, professional services and resources are donated.

So next time you need a novel, non-fiction book, audiobook, or even a music CD, check out GoodBooksNZ.co.nz first. And if you’re not in NZ, they deliver worldwide. So go for it!
 I hear that Oxfam have actual stores in some countries – in fact in the UK Oxfam’s secondhand book stores are doing so well that according to The Guardian they’re now the largest retailer of secondhand books in the UK! Interestingly, in that some article in The Guardian the chairman of a booksellers association complained

Oxfam is a worthwhile cause but they are now acting more like a business than a charity and that is a concern.

While as a rival bookseller I can see why he’s worried, I can’t help thinking that in this commercial world we need more charities “acting more like a business”, since that’s how real, sustainable change will be achieved, and networks established that will go some way to reversing the inequality in our current economic system.

Rather than fight a system that privileges a few over many, we wanted to transform it from within to constructive effect. Now, each time you buy a book through us you challenge traditional barriers that prevent commercial involvement in reducing poverty.

*All GoodBooks quotes were taken from their website.

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As I already mentioned, last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the 2008 National Youth Forum on Diversity. I really enjoyed the whole experience, the people, the places and, yes, even the forum sessions themselves. I had no idea what to expect from the weekend, and it turned out to be different from all my vague imaginings. The theme for this year’s forum was “Finding Common Ground”, and our discussion mostly centred on our own honest thoughts about diversity in Aotearoa New Zealand. As the weekend progressed a particular issue grew stronger in my mind: the idea of identity.

I am a kiwi girl. I was born in New Zealand and love living here. When I found out that we would be staying on a marae I was really excited and hoped we’d be staying in the wharenui (meeting house) because staying on marae was one of my favourite memories as a kid. At my primary school we studied Māori art, legends, games and Te Reo (Māori language) at a basic level. As an 11 year old my secret wish was to grow into a good person so I could earn a chin moko (tattoo). No joke. I was really proud to be a New Zealander and call myself a Pākehā and be a part of such a rich culture. It’s weird that when you’re a kid everything seems that easy.

Recently, though, I have been thinking more and more about the idea of one’s own identity. Sometimes we joke about the fact that it’s always older people who are the most interested in their genealogy, but I think I too am slowly starting to take an interest in the idea of heritage. At the forum we listened to a speech given by Human Rights Commissioner Karen Johansen about her life growing up in New Zealand as a person of Māori and Pākehā descent. She introduced each of her grandparents, European and Māori, and spoke about the way that her mother brought her up as a good English girl, disregarding her Māori heritage. She said that as a young woman she always felt that something was missing from her life, until she reconnected with her Māori culture, and that now she feels strong and confident in her culture and ancestry.

This makes me think about whether there is something missing from my life in terms of heritage – I have no cultural identity to speak of. Māori are the Tāngata Whenua, the people of the land. 中国人 zhōng guó rén, Chinese people, come from 中国 zhōng guó, China. As a white New Zealander there is nowhere that I belong, and I have no “people”. These names, Tāngata Whenua, 中国人, these are the names those people call themselves. But I don’t really know what to call myself. Apparently “New Zealander” just won’t work. I was listening to the terms used during the forums in Auckland, and was very curious to see what I am, and where I fit in. I heard different descriptions of my “race”(?) from different speakers, as “Pākehā, European-type kiwis” and “white Anglo-Saxon”. And I think here we come down to it. It’s not where I come from, it’s what colour I am. “Pākehā” has come to refer to white people, no matter where they’re originally from. Not that we have any idea. I know that generations ago my own family came from England and Scotland, but my white friends? No clue. I just thought we’re New Zealanders. But we’re not. We’re white New Zealanders.  

Mr. Tom Calma was another speaker at the same session as Mrs. Johansen who said something that caught my attention. Mr. Calma is an Australian Aboriginal elder and is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner as well as the Race Discrimination Commissioner. He was speaking about various issues relating to the Aboriginal people and I just caught the end of one sentence that made me think. In relation to the issue he was talking about he said something like “and it’s time for the Pākehā to listen to us”. That really struck me. He did not say “it’s time for Australians to listen to us.” He said “Pākehā”. I immediately thought “what about the Asian-Australians? The African-Australians? Don’t you want them to listen to you as well? Why is it assumed that only white people are ignoring your people?” Mr. Calma doesn’t speak Māori (to my knowledge), and maybe he didn’t mean to just refer to white people, but in the end – isn’t it all our fault? How far back I can trace my ancestory is irrelevant, because in terms of my standing in New Zealand society*, it doesn’t really matter beyond the point when my great great great grandparents came here after their rulers stole the land from the Tāngata Whenua.

A few years ago I attended a workshop on the Treaty of Waitangi by Robert Consedine, the author of the book Healing our History. I remember that he said right at the beginning that one of the most important points was not to feel guilty as a white person in New Zealand. But this is really hard. In the 2005 edition of his book there is even a new chapter: White Priviledge: The Hidden Benefits. I do feel guilty for the priviledges I receive.

I’m not a white supremacist, and I’m not rascist. I recognise that the Māori people were mis-treated by white colonial settlers and effectively had their lands stolen. I know that studies show Māori continue to receive lower standards of healthcare and that comparatively fewer Māori gain higher education. The question is: am I personally responsible? And if so, when did I become responsible?

Urgh, I didn’t mean to talk so much about race, I’m just trying to explain how it feels to be a white person with no real cultural identity, except perhaps that of the “opressor”. The theme for this year’s diversity forum was “Finding Common Ground”. I guess this was a metaphorical phrase, because it was acknowledged by all conducting the forum that the land of New Zealand (theoretically) rightfully belongs to Māori. However I think as New Zealanders – Māori, Pākehā, Asian, Middle-Eastern, whatever – we need to accept that New Zealand is literally our common ground. This does not mean we have to ignore the fact that we reside here because the Tāngata Whenua allow us, but it means we all must realise that we each have a right to be here. I am not Māori, so perhaps I will never be allowed to claim New Zealand as mine, but I am a New Zealander, and I have the right to live here.

 I am a kiwi girl. I was born in New Zealand and love living here. My bf is Taiwanese, and he likes living in New Zealand too. One day I might live in Taiwan, or England, or anywhere I like. But I’ll always feel like I can come back here, because New Zealand is my home. Not my ancestor’s home, or my race’s home, but my home.

 Like a famous kiwi once said

I’m just a simple girl tryin’ to make my way in the universe


*I mean on a human level. I know in the law, my “people” (whites), are over-represented, but in reality even I admit that the Tāngata Whenua are the rightful owners of the land.


I don’t even know if I should post this… whenever I talk openly about race I’m so paranoid of coming off racist, but I guess these are my honest feelings, so if they’re racist, it’s better I have someone tell me now??

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When I was cleaning out some old boxes last week I found this funny e-mail I received years and years ago (I think from you, Mel!). I want to throw it out because it’s part of the clutter, but with the recent spate of freezing weather New Zealand’s been getting recently I thought it’d be appropriate to share it on here first.
New Zealanders will get it better than others – Canterbury is a region in the South Island of New Zealand and the people down there, Cantabrians (“Cantabs”), fancy themselves much more staunch and strong than the rest of New Zealand!

-: Canterbury Temperature Conversation Chart :-

20° above 0
Aucklanders try to turn on the heat
Cantabs plant gardens

15° above 0
Hamiltonians shiver uncontrollably
Cantabs sunbathe

10° above 0
Italian cars won’t start
Cantabs drive with the windows down

Distilled water freezes
Avon river water gets thick

5° below 0
People in Rotorua wear coats, gloves and woolly hats
Cantabs throw on a sweatshirt

10° below 0
Auckland landlords finally turn up the heat
Cantabs have the last BBQ before it gets cold

15° below 0
People in Kaitaia cease to exist
Cantabs lick flagpoles

20° below 0
Aucklanders fly to Sydney
Cantabs get out the winter coats

40° below 0
Wellington disintegrates
Canterbury Girl Guides begin to sell biscuits

60° below 0
Penguins begin to evacuate Antarctica
Canterbury Boy Scouts postpone “Winter Survival” training until it gets cold enough

80° below 0
Mt. Ruapehu freezes
Cantabs rent some DVDs

100° below 0
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole
Lincoln students get frustrated when they can’t thaw the keg

297° below 0
Microbial life survives on dairy prodects
Canterbury cows complain of farmers with cold hands

460° below 0
All atomic motion stops
Cantabs start saying “Cold ’nuff for ya?”

500° below 0
Hell freezes over
The Canterbury Crusaders lose the Super 14

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