David Hill: Keep calm and ignore Ockers who knock NZ

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Sign of the times in Aussie-NZ relationship. Photo / Getty Images
Sign of the times in Aussie-NZ relationship. Photo / Getty Images

Why do we fret so much over what Australians think of us? Especially when we share so many things in common with them - except language, of course.

While we worry, Aussies just see NZ as part of their great nation. That's why they claim Russell Crowe, Phar Lap and pavlova as their own.

You do get occasional Kiwiphobia emanating from The Land of the Long Red Dust-Cloud. There was the graffiti supposedly painted on a Sydney overbridge: "NEW ZEALAND SUX". To which another hand added "AUSTRALIA NIL".

But haven't our common concerns bound us more closely together? Both our cricket teams have been thrashed by India. Both our rugby teams have been thrashed by England. Both our America's Cup teams have been thrashed by almost everybody.

Alas, there's still misunderstanding, on the sunset side of the Tasman anyway. After a spell in The Koala Triangle, I offer this selection of how its natives see NZ.

•Never been there. Thought about it last year, but went to Singapore instead.

•It's all bumpy and hilly, eh? Like your cricket pitches.

•Bit like Switzerland, only poorer, they reckon. Lots of pine trees and hills and cows and them funny wooden houses.

•Never been there. Thought about it at Christmas, but went to Bangkok instead.

•The shopping can't be all that good. You're all in such a hurry to come over here and do some.

•It's where our rugby league coaches go when they want reserve grade players.

•Bit like Melbourne, they reckon. A lot of rain.

•Bit like Sydney, they reckon. A lot of hills and narrow streets.

•Never been there. Thought about it for the honeymoon, but went to Norfolk.

•Backward, mate. Backward. Half your pubs don't open till 10 or 11. What's a man supposed to do?

•And slow, mate. Slow. Takes an hour to cover 120km on some of your roads.

•They sell these weird lollies called chocolate fish.

•Your cricket team's called Black Caps, cos they all bat like mushrooms, haw haw.

•Never been there. Thought about it for the wedding anniversary, but went to Hong Kong instead.

•Weird, mate. Weird. Told this shoe shop guy I needed some thongs, and he sent me into this women's knickers place.

•Had four days there once. Went to that boiling mud place and that mountain place and that fishing place. Can't remember what they're called; they've all got these weird-sounding names.

• Never been there. Thought about it after the divorce, but stayed home and built a barbie instead.

How do we New Zealanders respond to such gracelessness?

Dame Nelie Melba (another pudding claimed by transtasman types) advised "Give them muck. It's all that they understand."

But I suggest we plagiarise and paraphrase Oscar Wilde instead.

"Australia? Never been there. But it must be great with all them little koalas flying around."

David Hill is a Taranaki writer.

- NZ Herald

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