I was born in Auckland, raised in the Bay Of Plenty and nearly died in Wellington (long story but I didn’t look both ways before crossing the street). I am a New Zealander inside and out, front to back, heads to shoulders to knees to toes, but still sometimes I am asked by strangers, “Where are you from?”
Over the years I have learned to not be offended by this question – people are just curious and some don’t get the experience of having a diverse range of friends. So to that question I now answer, “I was born here, I am a Kiwi. My parents are Asian and they’ve been here for nearly 40 years so they are Kiwis too.”
And in those two sentences lies the reason why I love New Zealand so much – no matter where you’re from, however long you’ve lived here, if you want to you can call yourself a Kiwi.
New Zealand is essentially a country of immigrants.
The most beautiful part of this is you can still identify with both your ethnicity and your nationality in a modern, sexy hyphenated style.
When people tell my 52-year-old mother that her “English is really good” she’ll bore into your soul with her sharp black eyes and will clap back with, “Of course it is, I am a Cambodian-Kiwi and I can speak five languages, how many can you speak?”
My best friend is Portuguese-Kiwi, my ex-boyfriend is a Jewish-Kiwi and my 8-year-old cousin keeps calling himself a Kiwi-Pokemon master. You can be Anything-Kiwi; it’s the most welcoming and adaptable identity in the world.
Name a country that has the freedom we have, a country that was the first in the world to let women vote and one of the first to legalise gay marriage. A country where you can wear pyjamas at the supermarket on a hot summer’s night and get a $2 sausage sizzle for a school fundraiser on any rainy Saturday morning.
We have so much here and I appreciate it more after seeing with my own eyes what the rest of the world has to offer. Nowhere else comes close.
It is indeed a precious place. And you have to be from somewhere else to appreciate it fully.
Which is also why having Muslim-women-only swimming sessions at a public pool is the direct antithesis of what this country has been about.
New Zealand’s success story was based on how people arrived and BECAME KIWIS.
We now have people that arrive that are forbidden to go shopping in their PJs. In fact, they are forbidden to go for a swim unless the whole pool is cleared out and non-approved people are no longer able to be there.
This, is the beginning of the end for the amazing country that, for now at least, hosts a lot of Kiwis.
Stop immigration of people who have no intention to become a Kiwi. Instead, they want to recreate their own version of a safer place to live inside this lovely country.