Uniquely Kiwi

I love saying that I’m a Kiwi and it’s fun to live in a country during its teenage years.  A time when Aotearoa is determined to be unique, but to fit in; trying to be wild, but in control; searching for itself but looking for connections.    In the world of wine, we are comparatively very young and again, we are sorting out what our real identity is, beyond simply the Sauvignon Blanc that propelled us onto the world stage.

This website is trying to establish the Taste of the Nation, using a questionnaire to build a picture of our nation’s wine tastes.  Have a go at taking the test if you like.  I found it a bit disappointing as it didn’t ask enough about taste preferences.  Perhaps I’m just a bit disappointed that I emerged as being likely to enjoy Sav Blanc, which doesn’t sound nearly exciting enough to me.  But then I am a New Zealander and we aren’t really into flashy now are we?! 

Had a laugh reading the Sunday Star Times Magazine yesterday – an essay by Leah McFall examined the trend of people kissing each other hello in New Zealand.  Now I’m guessing this must be a big city trend because the only people we kiss hello to are some good French friends.  Anyway, McFall goes on to comment on Kiwi’s “hardwired reluctance to touch” and our “good old New Zealand fear of intimacy” in a country “where for generations we’ve done nothing more intimate than wave at each other across a paddock.”   She explains that this forced distance has lead to the evolution of our own unique, very subtle body language that can speak volumes and is perhaps the most expressive in the world.  The bit I could relate to was the farmer she described who only had to raise his finger at a passing ute to say “I’m okay, you’re okay, milk solids are up five per cent this month.”  And then there’s the eyebrow lift, the chin jut.. it’s great to be able to laugh at ourselves.  We still don’t know what to do when people pop in for a visit in the afternoon – take the English approach and offer them a cuppa or follow the Aussies and get out the booze?  Best keep both tea bags and a bottle of vino handy over the long weekend!


6 Responses to “Uniquely Kiwi”

  1. 1 Uncle Jakey
    October 28, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Kia ora Jac,

    Yeah I agree, a few more questions on the Taste of the Nation site would make it better. My suggested variety came out as Pinot Gris, and though i like the odd Pinot Gris it is not a fad that has particularly grabbed me – I find many a little thin and uninteresting, though examples like Kumeu River make for good summer drinking. Their second suggestion was a better fit – Syrah – which, as I have mentioned before, is my favourite NZ variety.

    As for the greeting with a kiss thing, maybe it is bigger in cities, but with my friends I think it stems more from those of us from a Maori background as you often greet (men and ladies at least) with a kiss on the cheek as well as, or instead of, a hongi, whereas with only men it is just a hongi. This kiss on the cheek practice seems to have translated over to a few other friends who are perhaps getting in touch with their French/Greek/Italian (pick your European country!) roots; whatever the case I think it is nice to actually be able to express affection for friends in a physical but platonic way. Still, I wouldn’t just greet anybody that way, you always have to read the social setting or risk getting smacked!


    Hope things are going well with Aaron, yourself, the kids, and the sales/distribution!


  2. October 28, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Kiss Kiss Jacob (You can’t smack me over the net right ? 🙂 )

    Yes, a pity we don’t do a Syrah. Hubby recommends Trinity Hill and Te Mata Estate (Bullnose) as good Syrahs.
    I hadn’t considered the Maori greeting, so yes it may well be that we aren’t solely copying European countries. I like a lot of the Maori cultural practices, always thought the tangi was far better than the approach of ‘take an hour off work’ for a funeral. What is your Maori ancestry? Aaron is a member of Ngai Tahu.

  3. October 28, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Hi, Do something to help the hungry people from Africa and India,
    I made this blog about them:
    in http://tinyurl.com/6kv7fu

  4. 4 Uncle Jakey
    October 28, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Ahh yes…I am a man of many flavours as it turns out; my old boss at the library where i previously worked (I am a librarian in my day job and moonlight as a film critic and fine wine/food enthusiast – just without the budget to go along with it!) once described me as “the library Cliff Curtis” due to the fact that I have been mistaken for any number of slightly olive skinned cultures: hispanic/cuban when i travelled in the USA, Romani (Gypsy) when I spent part of a summer in Serbia, Iranian/Turkish/Israeli/Iraqi travelling NZ, and light toned Indian at the library by foreign doctors (I worked at the university medical school library).

    My actual mix is Maori/Welsh/Indian/’Pakeha’ in equalish quarters or thereabouts. Ngati Porou on dad’s side – I was born and lived my first 10 years in Gisborne – and Ngati Whatua on mum’s side, though she is actually half Indian, half pakeha but was adopted into a Ngati Whatua family up North as a child. So very much a mixed bag, though my upbringing merged mostly Maori and Pakeha culture.

    I like Aaron’s Syrah choices too – we just cleared off a bottle of Te Mata Bullnose on the weekend: concentrated, lithe and elegant, a more feminine style I would say but some of NZs best for sure. I would also add Craggy Range Block 14/Le Sol, Unison Vineyard, Vidals Reserve and Fromm/La Strada to the list – and that is shortening it somewhat!

    I am looking forward to sharing some of your new vintage SB and Gewurtz with Brett and others sometime soon!

    Hei kona,
    na Jacob.

  5. 5 fiascowines
    October 29, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Hey Mr Curtis,

    I can relate to that being mistaken for many olive skinned cultures – my Dad and I have quite olive skin, but are not 100 % sure where it originated from. That’s a fascinating background you have, particularly your mum’s adoption. Do you speak fluent Maori? I did stage one Maori at uni, but sadly I’ve gotten pretty rusty on it since then!

  6. 6 Uncle Jakey
    October 29, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Kao. Some of my whanau are fluent but I only speak a very little and understand a little more. We did grow up with a broader range of everyday kupu Maori mixed into our English than most of my non-Maori friends and also with a certain amount of tikanga. I have learned a little more but haven’t put the time in to learn properly, though i hope to find the motivation/time/energy at some stage. We would like our daughter to speak Maori so I guess we could all learn together a bit – especially if she goes to kohanga…

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