New Zealand Map

International Clarity: New Zealand (from Chandler Brown)

This week’s guest author: Chandler Brown

My name is Chandler Brown.  I grew up in Houston, TX.  I lived in New Zealand from July 2009 to July 2011.  I love the people and country.  It is a beautiful place.

Fun Facts about New Zealand


-Population: About 4.4 million

-Official languages: English, Maori

-A New Zealander is referred to as a Kiwi.  Be careful with the way you use the word “kiwi”.  It could refer to a person from New Zealand, the kiwi fruit which is native to New Zealand, or the kiwi bird which is also native to New Zealand.

-Native mammal species to New Zealand: 0

-Snakes in New Zealand: 0

-Sheep: 45 million

-Cattle: 10 million

-Member of British Commonwealth

NewZealand All-Blacks won the 2011 Rugby World Cup

New Zealand

New Zealand is a great country.  The Maori(pronounced MOW-ri with a rolled ‘r’) people are wonderful people.  They love their families.  They still go to their family maraes.  A marae is a family meeting place where they get together for funerals or other family meetings.  Each family has one, and they all know where their marae is.  The people are loving and kind.  I had a great time in New Zealand, and I would love to go back at some point.

Misconceptions about New Zealand

Where New Zealand is

Many people from the United States don’t know where New Zealand is.  One of the other Americans that I worked with told me that some of the people thought that he was going to Europe when he told them that he was going to New Zealand.  They couldn’t be more wrong.  I once saw an article in National Geographic that talked about the places that were directly across the world.  (I remember when I was younger, I thought it would be cool to dig a hole through the earth and come out in China).  This article talked about where you would end up if you dug a hole through the center of the Earth.  Turns out Auckland, NZ is across from Seville, Spain.  You can’t get farther away from New Zealand than Europe.
New Zealand is about 500 miles east of Australia.  Auckland, NZ, one of the northernmost cities in New Zealand, is about the same latitude as Melbourne*, Australia, one of the southernmost cities in Australia.
*Melbourne is pronounced MEL-bin

Kiwis eat lots of lamb

Before I went to New Zealand, I was under the impression that I was going to be eating a lot of lamb (there are 10 sheep to every person in New Zealand).  While I was there, I only ate lamb once or twice.  That could have been because I was a missionary, so the people fed me different than they fed themselves.  But I don’t think that’s the case.  The sheep are used more for wool and other fabrics and less for food.

Kiwis don’t eat much chicken

While we’re talking about food, let’s dismiss the belief that Kiwis don’t eat much chicken.  When I told one man that I was going to New Zealand, he told me that chicken was expensive, so I wouldn’t eat much chicken while I was there.  There is plenty of chicken to be had, and I ate plenty.  The people of New Zealand love KFC.  As a missionary, I was fed quite a bit by the people there.  When they bought food for us instead of making it, they would invariably buy either KFC or McDonald’s.

New Zealand is a tropical island

New Zealand is not a tropical island.  It’s not even one island.  It is made up of three islands: the North Island, the South Island, and Stewart Island.  As I mentioned before, most of New Zealand is farther south than Australia, and Wellington, the capital, is the southernmost capital in the world.  This makes New Zealand’s climate rather un-tropical.  A hot day in New Zealand is about 30° Celsius (~85° Fahrenheit).  The summers are warm and sunny.  The winters are cool and rainy.  The temperature during the winter is in the teens Celsius (50s Fahrenheit).  There is plenty of snow in the South Island up in the mountains, and I’m told there is pretty good skiing (I never went myself).

It is not a misconception to say that New Zealand is green and beautiful.  It is a beautiful place.  It is interesting to me because it is greener in the wintertime than in the summer because it rains so much.  There is nothing quite so green as New Zealand.

Most of the people in New Zealand are white

Before I went to New Zealand, I was under the impression that I would meet a few people from Pacific Islands, a bunch of Maori people, but mostly white people of European descent.  Boy was I wrong.  I met people from 83 different countries!  Most of the diversity was in the cities.  Outside the big cities, the population was mostly pakehas (the Maori word for people of European descent-same as gringo) and Maoris.  At least that was my experience.  One of the people that I met told me that it would be okay if the whole world was destroyed except New Zealand because there is at least one person from every country in New Zealand.  There were so many different people.  It was a beautiful experience to meet and interact with so many people of so many different nationalities.

Kiwis play soccer like the rest of the world

I also thought that Kiwis liked to play soccer as much as the rest of the world.  That is also false.  New Zealand was happy to go undefeated in the World Cup in 2010 (they played a draw all three games and didn’t advance).  The top three sports in New Zealand are rugby, rugby, rugby.  Nearly everybody in New Zealand plays rugby.  We ran into people of all ages who played rugby and everybody loved watching it.  We played rugby every week in some of the areas that I was in.  It is something that everybody loves.  The New Zealand All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup in 2011.  I had already left, but I imagine that the whole country was going crazy.  After winning the first World Cup, the All Blacks have choked every time.  So it was really exciting that they finally won again.

The main language in New Zealand isn’t English

Some people may be surprised to know that the main language spoken in New Zealand is English.  For a long time, that was not true, but it is now.  There was a time in New Zealand when the Maori language was banned in schools and public places.  Recently, the government has tried to bring it back and even made Maori an official language of New Zealand, but not very many people are actually fluent anymore.  There are Maori immersion schools and things, but it is not very widely spoken anymore.  English is the major language.

Misconceptions about the US

All Texans are Cowboys

When I told people that I was from Texas, they all thought that Texans were cowboys.  They were very surprised when I told them that I wasn’t a cowboy.  My wife still doesn’t believe that I’m very Texan Texas accent either.  But I am very Texan.  I grew up in Texas, and I loved Texas too!

Football is Slow and Easy

Because of their love for rugby, the Kiwis don’t think that American football is so great.  They think that it is easy and simple.  They all think that football is nothing compared to rugby.  There was always a debate if you were looking for it.  I don’t know if I have an opinion either way.  To be honest, I don’t think I know enough about rugby to have an opinion yet.  But if you ever tell a rugby player that football is better, be careful-some of those rugby players are BIG.

Kiwis do better


The New Zealand money system is much better than ours.  They have done away with nickels and pennies.  They only have 10, 20, and 50 cent pieces.  Also, they don’t have $1 bills.  They have $1 and $2 coins.  Then they have bills from $5 and up.  It was a great system.  Anytime you pay in cash, they round to the nearest ten cents.  (If you use a card, they still charge the amount in cents).  I just loved not having useless coins floating around.  And when I had a pile of change, it was actually worth quite a bit.  I really loved it.
(Editor’s note: please see the following to learn more about the penny problem:


Any four way intersection in New Zealand is governed by a round-a-bout or a stoplight.  They don’t have any four-way stop signs.  Round-a-bouts are beautiful things.  They are much quicker and I think they make traffic flow more smoothly.  They are also safer than a four-way stop.  I would love it if they started using more round-a-bouts here in the US.  I am just worried that Americans don’t know how to use round-a-bouts.  We have a round-a-bout near our house and there have been several people that don’t really understand how a round-a-bout works.  It is quite simple.  You yield to anybody that is coming in the round-a-bout.  And when it is clear, it is your turn.  But some people here just don’t understand how that works.  It can be quite frustrating. 
I really love New Zealand.  It is a beautiful place.  I lived there for two years, and I loved it!  I definitely want to go back and visit beautiful Aotearoa (Maori word for New Zealand) again someday.
From Kyle again:

If you have experience in both the U.S. and another country (for at least 3 months in each spot) and would like to write a post, email me at and I can send you more information.  Thanks!

Keep seeking truth.

You may also be interested in:
International Clarity: South Africa (from Casey Mangan)
International Clarity: Mexico (from Diva Garcia)
International Clarity: Colombia (from Jonathon Rickords)


Share this post

No comments

Add yours

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.