Monday, December 13, 2010

Ain't None Left

I'm home from new zealand.
I have soooo much to post on and I can't even begin to think where to begin.
Either way, this song carries a great memory for me in Northland.
The first time I heard this song was in the movie Boy, which already means something to me. But when I heard it again..

I stayed at my friend Toia's place in Whangarei, which is an unbelievably beautiful area on the east coast, where it was humid and warm. That night, I lay in the bed she let me stay in feeling the breeze blow in from the doorway that had only a cloth hanging over it instead of a door. It was dark, but Toia's brother was playing music on the speakers that dominated the living room, neighbored by guitars, drums, and bass guitars. It was Toia's uncle's place, actually, and he was quite the musician.

I lay there thinking there was nowhere more perfect than this. The house was located on top of a steep hill overlooking the bay, with about 5 neighbors in the whole area, most of whom were family members. It was the perfect night-time temperature to feel completely and utterly comfortable. I looked at my boyfriend sleeping next to me and smiled. What else could I need but the beauty of Aotearoa, compassion of strangers, and love from my partner?

Life in Aotearoa is difficult to explain, but this night I spent at Toia's could easily demonstrate the laid back, beautiful nature of Māoris. I had just met her family that day and they offered us a bed to sleep in.
We sat on her back porch listening to music, drinking tea, and just talking about anything and everything. The grass was still wet from the rain that had passed on earlier that evening, but it was still muggy. They cooked boil-up for dinner, which is a sort of dish where greens and pork back bones are cooked in a broth. Delicious. To think that a family I just met could offer me dinner and a place to stay was more than I could have ever expected. To them, it seemed like nothing at all. I am still extremely grateful to Toia and her whānau for this.

I thought about all this as Toia's brother played music in the other room. Suddenly, this song started playing. I felt like I was going to explode from an overwhelming sensation of euphoria. The music, the temperature, the breeze, the company, the kindness, the beauty, everything. Everything was wonderful and I truly fell in love with Aotearoa. There really is nothing more I could need outside of that amazing country.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gutter Black

the song of the moment. this is the theme song to a show called Outrageous Fortune. This show is about "westies" or "bogans" who are pretty much just white trash. [[ ]] They drink cheap beers, have a lot of cars, get into illegal biddings, etc. Either way, the show is totally addicting and pretty 'outrageous.' It's very, very New Zealand.

I celebrated my first guy fawkes day! Though it really wasn't hyped up nearly as much as July 4th would be in the USA, it still resulted in plenty of fireworks going off everywhere across Palmerston North. Just in case you don't know what Guy Fawkes Day is, I'm really not sure I can explain it. All I can say is that it's usually celebrated with fireworks and bonfires. It was a fun night, but nothing too exceptional to report.

One thing I also wanted to bring up at some point (and was only just reminded by the posting of Outrageous Fortune) is that New Zealand produced tv shows are ridiculously cheesy. Though I'm addicted to Shortland Street now, when I first saw it I almost died laughing at how bad the acting, dialogue, and sets. Imagine American soap opera daytime television status.. but at prime time. Pretty epic, but I love it. I don't know why such a low level of drama is considered prime time television, but that is the way it is and I'm not going to question it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


In New Zealand, pronunciations of Spanish words never ceases to crack me up. I can't exactly blame Kiwis, it's not like they're super exposed to Spanish things, but when they say Nicaragua as "nee-kah-rah-gyoo-ah" on national television, then I just don't know. Someone in the TV department could've told them how to properly say it? or even come close?

Exams nearly over, my education in New Zealand has just about finished. Sad to say, and I'm trying not to wallow in it, but I missed one of my exams. I thought it was Tuesday and it was actually Monday morning. I've emailed my professor and hopefully he will feel compassion, but who knows. I'll update when something is resolved.

I'm hoping to get 2 more tattoos before I leave, but that's still in debate.

Halloween, celebrated here to the most minimal degree, is at least respectable. If women decide to partake in a halloween party or situation, their outfits are comparatively modest and usually even really clever or scary. Not slutty and semi-formulated concoctions of lingerie. Looking through people's photos every year just gets me angry. Halloween should be fun and creative, not a competition to see how naked someone can get before getting ticketed by the police for indecent exposure. Unless it's a funny naked, which it hardly is, then I disapprove of unnecessary sluttiness. I'm not usually a feminist either. I don't know, it's usually too much and usually just so desperate looking. Women shouldn't have to feel the need to look like semi-low-budget porn stand-ins to feel sexy on a day of dressing up.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Over and Over Again

short post.

the grading system here baffles me. Though, I suppose it reflects a thought I had at some point in my educational upbringing-- if you know at least half the material, you should at least pass. And that's how it is here. A 50% is a C. Which makes a 65% a B. This shocked me when I received my geography project and saw 24 out of 40. I could not believe I'd practically failed a major project until someone informed me I had actually received a B. I don't understand this because it must mean that the standards or expectations for students are much lower.. but they also make it way harder to get A's. Because, not going to lie, I thought my project was pretty damn good. And to get a B on it was a BIT upsetting. And when this grade goes home, it won't say 'this grade was attained in a country where A's are ridiculously hard to get, so consider that when reading this student's grad school application'. It'll just be a B on my transcript. WHICH IS UNACCEPTABLE.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jah Rastafari

Now for a post about actual New Zealand things...

#1 introduction to Thanksgiving
I decided that since I'll be in Aotearoa during thanksgiving that I should have one here with my whānau (family) that I've got here. I think the best part is introducing everyone to foods that have no importance or are eaten commonly here. These include: Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, cornbread, biscuits, and (basically) Turkey. It was even better when questions like 'what does pumpkin pie look like??' and 'can we dress as pilgrims and indians??' were asked. I can't wait to have a proper thanksgiving dinner with kiwis. I've never made whole meals from scratch, but since biscuits, cornbread, and cranberry sauce don't exist here, it'll be exciting times prepping for that.

#2 savory baked goods
Another thing about Aotearoa is that the baked goods that mostly exist here are savory. Beef and cheese pies, ham scones... The baked goods that are sweet and DO exist, are really not very nice. The cookies are hard, cakes are called things like 'chocolate slab', fruit loafs are often topped with a strange pink frosting, and doughnuts do not taste like doughnuts should. Not to seem ethnocentric, but as an American lover of pastries, these pastries just don't cut it. Though I do appreciate a nice potato-top pie (hamburger meat inside, mashed potatoes on top), I like to keep my pies sweet and fruity.

#3 slang
I thought since I've been here for quite some time now, I've collected quite a bit of slang and haven't really posted about it before now.
New Zealand words = American translation

mean = cool
shot = thanks/cool
fully = totally
dear = expensive ex. "those sausages are quite dear."
tea = any meal really, but usually dinner
pudding = dessert
pissed = drunk
otp - on the piss = getting drunk
keen = willing ex. "I'm keen as to get pissed"
churr = no real translation.. hard to explain really, but sortof a farewell derived from cheers.
(adjective) as = hella (adjective) ex. "that salad was fresh as!"
snapped = caught ex. "he got snapped cheating on his exam"
suss = sort ex. "suss out who's going to be driving tomorrow"
heaps = tons ex. "there'll be heaps of food!"
feed = meal ex. "we're going to have a mean feed"
hard = word of agreement. ex. "that was awesome." "hard."
hardout = intensely ex. "She'll be studying hardout tomorrow"
lad = boy, male ex. "he's a big lad."
lollies = candies
nice = delicious
mince = hamburger meat
gap = leave ex. "let's gap it out of here."
cuppa = any sort of hot drink ex. "want a cuppa?"
fizzy drink = soda
flash = cool, expensive or neat ex. "that's a flash phone, is it an iphone?"
flog = steal
fringe = bangs (this being one of the must frustrating ones as I continually refer to my bangs as .. bangs.. and people give me odd looks because of it)
knackered = tired
crook = sick or hungover
capsicum = bellpepper
chemist = pharmacist
winge = complain

okay i'm sure that's enough, but hopefully that was interesting. It sure was interesting slowly learning what each of those words meant...
+ a bunch of cities have nicknames...
Palmerston North - Palmy
Wellington - Wellyz
Christchurch - Chch
Auckland - Aucks
Gisbourne - Gizzy

#4 preference for 'meatier' girls
I've noticed the men here tend to prefer girls who aren't all that skinny. I don't really want to say much more on this, except that I've noticed it and think it's interesting.

#5 candies
the "lollies" here are also quite different to the ones at home. More generally, it's gummy candies that are preferred here to things like skittles, starburst, and even chocolate bars. I find them quite tacky, but some can be nice. There are strange, old-fashioned candies like things called Redskins or Eskimos, which are basically gummy lollies in the shape of native americans and, you guessed it, eskimos. Pretty sure that wouldn't fly at home.

#6 P.C.
New Zealanders are way less "P.C." than Americans. I heard a commercial on the radio for an Asian restaurant with an Asian man speaking in an outrageously stereotyped Chinese accent. I couldn't believe I was hearing it on the radio, but everyone else thought it was normal. As well, there was a commercial on TV about erectile disfunction (And this wasn't playing too late at night.. maybe 8pm) and it showed two men with their pants down, hands up, playing the piano standing up... I'll leave that one up to your imaginations. Either way, Kiwis are not afraid to say or advertise what they want.

#7 Reggae
Reggae music is huge here (especially amongst Māoris). A certain connection was Rastafarian beliefs has been established and many sing about Jah and whatnot. However, I'm not too sure how aware of Jah and Zionism Kiwis actually are, as one of my friends once asked me 'what IS Jah?' Either way, I am a HUGE fan of Kiwi Reggae bands, as well as a Hawaiian reggae group called Kalohe Kai

This is 1814 (Who I saw at the Waitangi Day Festival in Auckland at the beginning of the year..) singing Jah Rastafari

Friday, October 15, 2010

Something In the Water

This post ... is dedicated to Kempy (Presley) Reweti and Terewai Rikihana.
They're the co-presidents of the Māori club (Manawatahi) and they are fabulous.

Kemp has such energy and passion for everything he does, which is incredibly infectious. While some are afraid to curse in front of his "wholesome" self, I feel more inclined to spew profanities and insults his way. He does so much for manawatahi, and even so much for all his friends. He gets excited about winning online bowling games and making front row for kapahaka. As accepting as he is, if he catches you with beer in his spa (watching his Sky tv) he'll kick you out. Kemp is one of a kind and I am so glad to know him!!

As for Terewai, she is easily one of funniest, easy to get along with people I know. She'll just find ways to make people laugh, and always finds a way to get me, especially when I'm in the zone studying. She has a long way to go in terms of looking like a gangster, but she's getting there. There's also the fact that she inspires me to pūkana and finish my assignments on time, which isn't something many people care enough to do. She has also done so much for manawatahi. Anyone who doesn't know tere should get to know her asap, because she is great.

These two are great friends that I've got and I would never have expected to meet such wonderful people. Since it's the end of the year, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the people that have affected my journey, and Tere and Kemp have both directly and indirectly affected my life so much that I can't help but make an entire post to their awesomeness.

Kemp getting excited about online bowling... or possibly anything, really.
Terewai inspiring me to pūkana
co-prezzies at atawhai (studying hard? ha)

Kemp & Tere,
Thank you thank you thank you for being wonderful co-presidents to manawatahi, and for being two of the greatest friends I've had in New Zealand (or even the world)!! This is to the long nights spent at atawhai, ngā hui, spontaneous dances, games of tahi-rua-toru..., always having a mean feed for manawatahi, and just for everything you do and are!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cool Me Down

I keep starting posts
and then they get accidentally deleted..!

First, I want to dedicate this post to Manawatahi.
Much of what has been going on in my life lately has been a direct result of Manawatahi, and I could not be more happy about that.
The Māori student association at Massey has literally made my experience here in New Zealand a thousand times better than it could have been otherwise.
I've really been able to be immersed in Māori culture, I've made the most amazing friends (and boyfriend) that are practically family now, and I've been allowed to partake in things that I could only dream of being involved with.
I owe so much to Manawatahi!

I learned a whole kapahaka bracket (Māori song & dance.. and haka) and not only performed it, but performed it at a competition.. and we got 2nd place! I had to learn the poi for it, and I pushed myself to know it well enough to perform, and that was in a matter of 2-ish months. The poi is deceivingly hard.
I also went to an event called Te Huinga Tauira (basically a Māori student get together) where 7 or so universities attended. It was a wonderful experience where I got to stay on a marae, practice my Māori language, and meet more awesome Māoris.

I also visited a place called Castle point, and stayed at a beach house just south of it which was pure new zealand. It was at the bottom of some big hills, right on the beach full of big rocks to climb and wild waves. Basically just a street of about 10 houses lined this beach, and that's how I've found many beach areas around Aotearoa exist. Which is, in my opinion, the perfect type of place to be.

Also witnessed my first legal lesbian wedding, which was also in a marae. That was fun. I love that New Zealand has legal homosexual weddings. It's interesting though that it was only in 1993 that a Human Rights Act was passed that made discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation illegal. From there NZ has come quite a way in a matter of years.

Not sure what else to mention... but at least here's an update.