New Zealand life – there’s a lot to learn

100 facts about New Zealand from the Russian point of view collected reviews of Russian emigrants.

1. It’s not the tropics here. Neither the North, much less the South Island of New Zealand has a warm climate. Yes, in summer (from November to April) it’s really not bad for my taste: +18-25, but the rest of the time it rains for a week and freezes. Before the driving test I was scraping frost from the windshield.

2. Women wear makeup and heels only when they go out: to a club, to a party, to the opera, to the ballet, and so on. A very understandable state of affairs, really: why would they wear makeup every day? Gender equality in New Zealand, of course, is upheld. “Feminist” is not a swear word.

3. Hardened Kiwis (that’s what New Zealanders call themselves) walk around in 0C in T-shirts and shorts. I must admit, this phenomenon is not completely clear to me. Local doctors told me about a fact which really exists: the locals are used to be a little bit cold since childhood, therefore they tolerate low temperatures better, and get sick less.

4. The most frequent garbage on the streets are bags and packages of fast food chains. They say that in South Auckland, for example, the concentration of fast food places like McDonalds is one of the highest in the world.

5. It’s expensive to be a smoker in New Zealand. Already now a pack of cigarettes costs 16 NZD, and by 2020 they plan to either completely ban or raise the price to 25 dollars. To buy tobacco products you must show a document proving your age. You cannot smoke indoors. There was talk this year of banning smoking downtown altogether. It’s a bad habit, what’s the big deal.

6. A few days a year, after skiing in the mountains near Christchurch, you can swim relatively comfortably in the tolerably cold ocean near town: from snowboarding to surfboarding!

7. The relationship between New Zealand and Australia is somewhat similar to that between the US and Canada (South Park fans will understand) or Russia and Ukraine. If you call a Ukrainian a Russian, he will be offended. If you call a Kiwi an Aussie, he is bound to correct you. Not that it works both ways. Australians are said to think of New Zealand as a couple of small islands of farmers and sheep, with the latter ten times as many.

8. A separate fact: New Zealand is not Australia. The distance between these two completely different countries is more than two thousand kilometers. Almost like the distance between Moscow and Omsk, which, as you know, is in Siberia, next to Novosibirsk. One of the popular myths.

9. To buy a beer, you have to show a document (driver’s license, passport, plastic ID card 18+), but not to get on the plane, you can “check in” online or via SMS.

10. New Zealand is very beautiful, yes, yes – like in Lord of the Rings. However, most of the beauties that you could see in the trilogy of Peter Jackson, still on the South Island, where almost no one except the farmers live, and the tourist services, as the European visitors say, is not very developed yet.

11. SMS in New Zealand is called TXT (“text”). Russian immigrants say “text me” by analogy to the English “txt me, please.

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12. eBay here was completely defeated by the project of one nineteen-year-old student called TradeMe. It’s where people buy and sell, look for jobs, houses, cars, offer services. The kid is now a millionaire, of course.

13. There are no orphanages or homeless animals in New Zealand. Children are adopted (I hear there’s a waiting list for years), animals are captured and… Admittedly, I’m not sure how soon they’re put to sleep. Most likely kept in a kennel for a few months in case the owners miss them.

14. All year round, in all weathers, sunscreen is recommended. Of course, they know how to fight skin cancer and at early stages it can be cured here. It’s just expensive to do it at the expense of the state. That’s why doctors recommend not to just walk on the street. As in the case with the recommendations like “take 6,000 steps a day,” not everyone smears cream.

15. On Thursday the bars are as crowded as on Saturday. People are happy.

16. When getting off the bus it is customary to say thank you to the driver: just “thank you” or “thank you, driver. This is what polite passengers do 90% of the time. It’s very nice. Bus drivers often wait for the passenger to sit down before driving. In the case of an elderly passenger, always.

17. There is not a lot of wilderness – straight untraveled trails and brambles. There is not much land, and it always belongs to someone. In the national parks, there are signs everywhere, indicating how much to walk and in which direction. Some of the hiking trails (Milford Track) you have to sign up in advance. It is very beautiful there.

18. Fires are not allowed almost anywhere. Open fires are known to cause most forest fires. In addition, after such wild tourists always leave garbage. Once upon a time I asked kiwi guy Matt, “Why can’t you burn fires when it’s such a beautiful country? “Because it’s beautiful, you can’t burn,” he replied. There’s something about that.

19. It is not customary here to be late for work. It is not in the Kiwi tradition to be in a hurry. Haste is contraindicated. If they are looking for a person to join the company ASAP, it means that the position will be filled within six months. It is normal if they do not answer your letter immediately, it is normal if it takes three weeks to connect the Internet.

20. The horses grazing in private fields are dressed in peculiar coats. I once thought it was for warmth, it turned out to be for the sun. See above for a point about its harm.

21. The most dangerous animal of all fauna is the feral boar. All the rest here are birds. You can sleep in your tent at night and walk barefoot in the woods. There are no snakes here either.

22. Mosquitoes in New Zealand can be said to be absent. On the South Island in the wilds of Milford Sound and around there are the most imposing gnats, but it’s peaceful. Sitting on the lake, no mosquitoes buzzing. Even as unusual it was at first.

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23. There is little or no corruption here. It is unthinkable to bribe a policeman. Stories of this kind usually amuse the Kiwi companies. Of course, somewhere at the level of city planning, kickback schemes are probably at work (not necessarily illegal). However, in everyday life in six years I have never encountered anyone suggesting “some other way to solve the issue” or hinting that it would be necessary to “grease”. It makes life so much easier.

24. In New Zealand they drive on the left side. A simple enough fact, nothing to add.

25. The lunar month here looks more like a tilted bowl than a sickle. New Zealanders look at a slightly different sky. I used to be mistaken in believing that one of the few, if not the only constellations appearing in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres was the constellation of the Hare. This is bullshit, of course.

26. Kiwis and Australians are constantly arguing over the origins of various phenomena, whether it be Russell Crowe or the “flat white” variety of coffee (similar to lattes).

27. New Zealand is a country of small businesses. It’s very easy to start your own business and stay afloat in the beginning. People say that New Zealand is full of talented people, but the entrepreneurship is insufficient: as soon as a company grows up, they either buy it or take it to Australia. Such is the case.

28. Winter is here from June to August. Summer is from December to February. There are winter sales going on right now.

29. In New Zealand, as I wrote above, do not like to rush, and love to plan. To do this, it should be noted, quite convenient – a stable political and economic system is conducive.

30. Mobile communications and the development of Internet communications leave much to be desired. The first is due to the low population density and mountainous landscape. The second is due to the laziness of telecom companies and the small population. As far as I know, there are only one or two unlimited “Download as much as you can” tariffs. And then I just got a letter that they are raising the price.

31. There is an opinion that the American dream – family, home, car, stable job, medicine, ocean, hobbies, sports – is much closer to reality in New Zealand than at home in the USA. There is the so-called “rule of three b’s”: BMW, Bach, Boat – Baja, dacha, yacht

32. New Zealand’s five favorite sports, in descending order of adoration: rugby, cricket, netball, tennis, soccer. “Netball” is basketball without a shield, especially well played by women.

33. Favorite New Zealand food: “fish & chips” – chips and fish in batter, lamb with kumara chips (sweet root vegetables, yams, orange such potatoes). Manuka Honey is quite popular and it has antiseptic properties: the natives used to smear wounds with it. It is better than rinsing with water.

34. Marijuana seems to be banned, but the police don’t particularly crack down on those who smoke it. We used to have a rule in our house: there had to be wine in the fridge and weed in the cupboard. Just in case. Once a year, marijuana enthusiasts gather downtown where they smoke and sort of hint that it’s been a long time since such commonplace things were legalized.

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35. People in New Zealand love coffee and know how to make it. Auckland and Wellington have a huge number of cafes per capita. I’ll tell you, I’m addicted too and I’ve been to about 50 different places. Tea is also loved, but less so.

36. On the one hand the conscious part of the population exercises a lot and persistently and looks after their health, but on the other hand New Zealand is the third most obese country in the world (data for 2012). This is at the expense of New Zealanders who are genetically predisposed to obesity, it’s a sad fact.

37. Street names are listed at intersections. This is, in my opinion, very inconvenient. Lost in the middle of a long straight street, you don’t know where you are, no name or house number. Oh yes, the house numbers are not standardized, but written in the format “from the ball”: as the owner of the house as he pleases. There are no standardized signs with convex numbers, as in Russia.

38. Famous New Zealanders: Edmund Hillary was the first to climb Mount Everest, Peter Jackson directed one of the most successful film sagas ever based on Tolkien’s works, Er

How New Zealanders live and what we can learn from them (and what we shouldn’t)

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

“RBC Style” tells about the habits of the inhabitants of different countries and continents. The first story about New Zealand and the manner of its inhabitants to support local production and walk barefoot.

New Zealand was not filmed in “The Lord of the Rings” for nothing – the country is so striking and remote that its existence is as difficult to believe as in Middle-earth. Especially, apparently, the cartographers, who often forget to put the small islands on the map (such bloopers local even devoted a whole website!). And yet New Zealand exists and there are very real people, with their own rules and traditions, sometimes quite unusual for our hemisphere. Journalist Ksenia Spodyneiko, who moved to Tauranga from Moscow, tells what habits of New Zealanders would be useful in Russia, and what exactly the place at the edge of the Earth.

Getting paid by the hour

In New Zealand it is not customary to count wages by the month. Pay for any position is by the hour. An advertisement for a job will read as follows: “Office Manager – $20 an hour” or “Associate Accountant – $25 an hour”. The contract will specify how many hours per week you will work. In a standard “office” position, it is about 40 hours a week. If you work more than that, the boss is obligated to pay the excess at a higher rate. If you work on a holiday, you get a higher rate. If you ask for a doctor’s appointment you get exactly the number of hours you worked today.

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

Such a system not only adds flexibility to the work schedule (having been absent on personal business today, you can easily work these hours tomorrow), but also establishes certain boundaries between the boss and his subordinate. For example, you will never receive a call about work issues outside of normal business hours and never be asked to “be late for half an hour”. And if they do, it will be in advance and paid at time and a half.

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Work is paid, as a rule, once a week or once every two weeks. You will get a detailed report by mail: how many hours you worked, at what rate, how much money was spent on taxes, how much money was saved for future vacations and pensions.

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

Talk about yourself on your resume

Imagine reading your resume in reverse order – personal habits, special skills, work experience, education. This is roughly what a standard resume looks like in New Zealand. When applying for a job here, it is not prestigious university diplomas and high-profile brands in the service record that are much more important, but the actual skills. So everything goes: to get a job in a hospital, they tell how they took care of their sick great-grandmother, applying for the position of personal assistant – how they practiced time-management skills, being a mother, a wife, a volunteer at an exhibition and an active blogger at the same time. Relying on a person’s actual capabilities, a company executive is more likely to hire an effective and helpful employee than to be seduced by experience at a prestigious competitor or a Singapore MBA.

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

Saving for retirement at your discretion

When signing an employment contract in New Zealand, each employee receives a KiwiSaver form, or pension contribution form. A person has the right to choose not to deduct money from his/her salary or to deduct 3, 4 or 8% of his/her pre-tax salary for his/her future pension. Temporary residents and those who are in the country on a work visa, prefer to receive a larger amount in cash, but those who plan to spend their whole life in New Zealand may start saving for a secure old age from the age of 16.

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

Kiwis (as New Zealanders call themselves) enjoy spending their free time on socially useful activities. As in the rest of the world, these activities are usually unpaid. All together clean the already clean beach from the garbage every weekend? Sure! Spend evenings playing chess with the residents of a nursing home? Absolutely! Organize a support group for people with chronic fatigue syndrome? Tell me where to fall in line!

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

In New Zealand, the desire to unselfishly help our neighbors has reached unbelievable proportions. Huge radio stations broadcasting across the country are run solely for charity by country music fans who don’t want the style to fade into oblivion. The musical, which draws an audience of 10,000, is produced every two years by more than a hundred volunteers, some of them nationally known actors and musicians, and others volunteers of all ages who wish to diversify their daily lives with rehearsals and new friendships.

How many interesting events and pleasant places for people who are less fortunate than others in life would appear in Russia if we were as willing to share our time and skills with others.

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

Support local production

A sense of a friendly shoulder is a driving force in New Zealand. If a Kiwi finds out that an acquaintance has opened a café, he will go there for breakfast, even if it is much more convenient and faster to stop by Starbucks on the way to work. If there are local tangerines and tangerines from Italy on the counter in the store, he will buy the former. Home-grown tangerines are given unconditional priority.

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Unsurprisingly, the markets and theme shows are hugely popular: New Zealanders go there not so much to pass the Saturday morning, but to discover new local brands that could provide an alternative to foreign brands, if they are still present in their lives. Sportswear, smoothie superfoods, cosmetics, baby strollers, building materials – it doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s made in New Zealand.

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

Bringing food to guests

Russian hospitality implies that the “hostess of the evening” sets a lavish table for guests. Local hostesses also enjoy showing off their culinary skills, and given that most New Zealanders have a grill in their backyards, the head of the family will also be keen to show off their meat-grilling skills. However, it is not customary to come empty-handed. Usually, when guests are invited to a birthday, Christmas or Sunday barbecue, they ask what they should bring. Of course, the hostess will answer, “Nothing, thank you,” but then will likely add: “But you can bring a salad” (or dessert, or drinks). If you stop listening after “nothing, thank you,” no one will be offended, but the tradition of bringing your own food is so nice that it is rarely neglected. After all, under the most unfortunate circumstances, you’ll always have at least one dish that you’re sure to enjoy.

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

A lifetime of renting a room

Kiwis are very social people. Breakfasts in a cafe with friends, going to the fitness center with colleagues, weekly meetings at the book club – it seems they are specifically looking for as many opportunities for constant communication as possible. And one of them lies in where they live. Until the New Zealander has a family, he prefers to rent a room in a large private house with other tenants rather than live on his own. In such houses, each person has his own bedroom and probably a bathroom, but he shares the living room and kitchen with his roommates. It is not uncommon for advertisements for a room to indicate the habits of the roommates, such as: “Three girls will rent a room to a future girlfriend for morning runs and evening soap operas,” or “You will like this room if you prefer a house party to any bar.”

It is known that one of the common stereotypes about Russians abroad (after vodka and bears) is our lack of smile. Perhaps the habit of getting along with once strangers will make us more open and sociable.

Photo: Alexey Spodyneiko

Kiwis enjoy traveling several times a year. The so-called gap year is also quite common – yesterday’s schoolchildren go to learn about the world for a whole year before they go to college. Of course, when you have visa-free entry to 173 countries of the world, international travel seems much more accessible. But don’t forget that from this side of the world a trip to any other country looks almost like a trip to the moon. Even Australia is at least three and a half hours away.

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