Thursday, March 18, 2010

Surprising New Zealand

When I first got here, I posted how one of my American work mates who was now to NZ described NZ as a country that is "deceptively boring," where it seems similar to North America, but will surprise you once in a while to make you feel far from home (if you're from North America). Here are three things that happened recently that makes me feel that way.

Today, the verdict for a pretty famous trial came down. A few activists broke in to a military base and destroyed a radar dome in protest of US activities causing loss of civilian life in Iraq. They admitted to the crime but said they did it to prevent loss of life as the operations would have led to the deaths of Iraqi civilians. They were found not guilty. Although I am sympathetic to them, I still think they should have been found guilty. Last time I checked, destroying someone else's property is illegal. In any case, I am impressed at how progressive NZ is compared to the US, as this would never have happened in the US. However, I am afraid that this may be sending the wrong message - that you can do anything as long as you believe it is right.

Another thing that I have constantly been surprised about is now trustworthy the NZ government is. In fact, NZ is ranked number one in the world with regards to government trust. It is also ranked number one in terms of peacefulness, accounting for violent crimes, violent accidents and war participation. But this post is not about these topics.

There have been many "The King is coming" ads for Burger King. When I asked a friend about it, they said that it was for the new KingPing burger at Burger King, but I was pretty sure it is about the Burger King King character, who is a symbol of BK in North America. At this point, I just realised that the Burger King King does not exist in New Zealand, and his arrival was the focus of the ads!

I just saw ads for "Doritos: They're coming." I am really excited that I will be able to eat Doritos again! But then again, I don't really approve of ubiquitous snack foods you can get all over the world as it pushes out local foods and flavours. Life without Doritos was unimaginable in North America.

Also, I just heard a program pronounce Yosemite National Park as "YO-se-mite" rather than "yo-SE-mi-tee." I remember that it was always a joke with us to pronounce it like "YO-se-mite" back in California.

Another quick point that's only kind of on-topic: There are apparently no hipsters in New Zealand, and people don't know what a hipster is!

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