Living in a country with a population less than Sydney's and just over half of London's is an interesting and, mostly, pleasant experience.
We are at the five million mark here with about another million Kiwis living abroad.
The population has more than doubled just in my lifetime of 68 years.
When compared to the United Kingdom's population of 66.5 million people, living in a land mass around the same or smaller than New Zealand's, our country is almost empty.
In terms of our history iwi and any family whose ancestors settled in this land over the last 180 years can usually point to relationships with each other that are closer than would be seen in countries of higher population.
Many of our European or Asian settlers in the 19th century arrived here as single people so married into other settler families or into iwi. This makes for an interesting mixture of cultures and beliefs.
It also means that Māori and settler peoples are more closely related to each other than many other, bigger, countries settled in the 19th century.
It is not uncommon to be in a strange town in New Zealand and bump into relations or friends by accident and with surprise, pleasant or otherwise.
Everybody knows everybody or someone related to everybody.
This occurs a lot when overseas.
How many times have you been asked if you know "Mick Myers from Masterton" once someone knows you are a Kiwi? Even scarier is how many times are you able to say you know them or their family or have heard of them.
How many times do you travel overseas, bump into other Kiwis and then spend some time at a getting to know you session going through all the friends, acquaintances and relations you have in common?
Ever been overseas in the middle of somewhere and around the corner walks an old acquaintance from New Zealand? Or in a queue and hear a Kiwi accent stand out in the crowd, a joy to the ear.
Weird things can happen sometimes.
We were in a bar in Napier some years ago, sitting at a table.
I could see a very attractive woman across the bar looking at me. I did not recognise her.
Being of the usual manly strong-featured but homely appearance, this is not an experience I suffer from often and did my best not to make eye contact back despite trying to decide if I was flattered or not.
My darling had her back to the table where the woman was seated with friends.
As the evening progressed the woman's stares were becoming a little uncomfortable. I decided I needed to go somewhere that was past her table and quietly checked her out as I was passing.
She leaps up and hugs me, her husband gets up and shakes my hand, they were lovely people we had known many years before when I used to work with her.
We had spent about an hour furtively sneaking peeks at each other but both too shy to approach.
I asked her why she had not come over as she said she recognised me as soon as I came in. She said she was not too sure who I was with as she didn't recognise my darling. She thought I was perhaps with another lady. As if. Only in a small country.
Many years ago we were on holiday with the kids in Nelson and both the kids and I got some sort of bug so Nurse Jenny, after filling us up with Panadol and fluids, drove us to the on-duty doctor for a check-up and perhaps something to stop or slow down certain bodily processes.
We walk into the surgery to be met by an old school mate of the bride.
They had not seen each other for 20 odd years.
The kids and I received a cursory examination, some medication for making stuff solid was prescribed and we were then summarily ignored while these two caught up with each other.
Back in settler times it is obvious that most people in a village or town knew each other or knew of each other.
Single settlers married into nearby settler families or local iwi.
New Zealand in the 19th century was a male-dominated society in terms of the white population.
Any single woman arriving on the frequent immigrant ships found herself being wooed by many a lonely man.
Quite a few Māori wahine also decided that they liked the cut of a local settler's jib. From small beginnings a unique blend of cultures was derived, coming together as New Zealanders.
This also meant that, down the track, descendants would discover, usually by accident or study, family or work relationships with others going back many years but previously unknown.