New Zealanders say mean things about Australians all the time. Have you ever considered how they feel about it? I've always assumed they were too big, tough and flash to care what we say. They are not. Recently on the Australian "Grade Cricketer" podcast, Ian Higgins and Sam Perry discussed Kiwi v Ocker animosity.
"New Zealand people f***ing hate Australia. F***ing hate us. Every New Zealand person I've met seems really nice. That's what surprises me. I think there is something f***ing going on in New Zealand. I don't trust them. The nice guy perception, the image, I believe it is true, but there is this undercurrent of 'we f***ing hate Australia'."
The Grade Cricketers are top blokes who love Kiwis. Their self-deprecating humour calls to mind our beloved Alternative Commentary Collective*. I'd like to reassure excellent Australians like the Grade Cricketers, that we like 'em lots. Apart from a few issues on the sports field - we love being Australia's next-door neighbour.
One of the positive aspects of transtasman relations is the lack of military conflict. We never bomb each other. Most countries experience tension with their closest neighbour — India v Pakistan, North v South Korea, Qatar v everyone around them. Thankfully Kiwis and Aussies only fight together and never against each other. This is particularly good for New Zealand. Australia spends 46.3 billion a year on defence. We only spend 4.2b. They would kick our butts.
A hundred years ago, in the heat of battle, it was our mates, the Australians, who first nicknamed us "Kiwis". If Aussie World War I diggers hadn't used a brand of boot polish with our national bird on the can, we would be known only as New Zealanders. That would suck. We love being Kiwis. Thanks for the name, Australia!
New Zealanders appreciate a huge variety of individual Australians. Take the Greatest Showman on Earth, Hugh Jackman. Seven Sharp and Radio Hauraki host Jeremy Wells once said of the man, "he's my favourite person in the world, and that includes my kids". Thor, the God of Thunder, is a top Aussie bloke. He is also best mates with the great New Zealander Taika Waititi. Bob Hawke (Aussie PM 1983 to 91) is celebrated in New Zealand to this day as the all-time best political beer boofer. Knives Out star Toni Collette on the other hand is an Australian whose relations with New Zealand have been rocky at times. In 2004, she threw a massive tizzy when she caught Kiwi rock band Elemeno P smoking cigs inside at Sing Sing Studio in South Yarra. Luckily we are big enough as a nation to look past that fracas and instead concentrate on how good she was in The Sixth Sense and Muriel's Wedding.
Australian opening batsman David Boon wormed his way into New Zealand hearts back in '89 by drinking 52 cans of VB while flying Melbourne to London for the ashes. Other Australians we love include Galadriel, Agent Smith, Elrond, The Joker (RIP), Bindi Irwin, Quokkas, Mad Max, Babe, Happy Feet, Hungry Jacks, Coolaroo's Darry Kerrigan, Cathy Freeman and dual Aussie/Kiwi citizen Maximus Decimus Meridius.
Lucas De Paauw is an excellent Australian whom Kiwis love. He became famous in 2017 after jumping into crocodile-infested waters in Far North Queensland. He did it to impress a "really beautiful" British backpacker. Still bleeding, he successfully asked her out on a date. A local radio station questioned Lucas why he thought risking his life would get him a lady's phone number. He answered, "10 cups of goon", goon being Australian for cask wine. The game "Goon of Fortune" is another thing we admire about Australians.
Aussie bands we love include AC/DC, The Bee Gees and Crowded House.
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Australians are a bit flashier, a little hotter, and a sniff more intense when it comes to business. They are, however, more like us than anyone else on this planet. The two countries' differences are minor — eskys v chilly bins, thongs v jandals, who is more amorous with their sheep.
Australia is our big brother, and it's every little brother's job to be annoying. That's where our anti-Aussie banter comes from. Unlike most big brothers, Australia has never given us a proper hiding. Not even a dead arm. When all is said and done, we know we are welcome at Australia's place, and they know we love having them over here.
It's 2021. Australia and New Zealand are all grown up. Maybe it's time we enter the next natural phase of our sibling relationship - going to the pub together and bitching about our parents.
*Matt Heath is a member of the Alternative Commentary Collective