The Laid-back Attitude of New Zealanders

In two weeks, I’m leaving New Zealand for six months. I’m flying with Tim to Switzerland via Singapore, before visiting his family in Germany; then flying to Ireland and visiting my family in England. We’re going to explore Scotland and Sweden; Spain and Italy. We’re going to spend a fairytale Christmas in Germany, before returning to New Zealand via Malaysia.

Will I miss New Zealand? I’m not sure. I feel like I’ll miss the attitude of its people more than the country itself, but time will tell. I’ve been craving a “proper” European Christmas for eighteen years. The sort of Christmas with snow flurrying through medieval villages, leaded windows glowing with amber light, markets infused with the aroma of roasted chestnuts, and church bells ringing with melancholy joy.

Maybe I’ve idealised it. There are some things New Zealand just can’t compete with. I’m looking forward to being surrounded by historical buildings once more. I’m looking forward to savouring the food of my childhood. I am, however, almost dreading returning to Edinburgh, the place in which my parents told me we were moving to New Zealand, and I threw the largest tantrum of my life.

I can still picture it, the Italian restaurant with the bright windows; the dark street gleaming with recent rain; the red-and-white-checked table cloths. My dad complaining that his pasta was “pap” whilst my sister fed hers to her imaginary dinosaur. The big reveal followed by me dashing into the ladies’ room and punching the hand dryer. I put the hand dryer on thinking no one would hear my sobs.

But anyway. I think I will miss New Zealand. I’ve lived here nearly two-thirds of my life and I love how laid-back the people are. It’s difficult to imagine the sorts of political scenes we’ve seen coming out of Europe happening here, purely because New Zealanders are less prone to being whipped into extreme states. New Zealand crowds are sometimes awkwardly apathetic.

They’re notoriously difficult to get a cheer out of. I’ve witnessed British and American entertainers trying and managing to elicit only a half-hearted “yay”. One American celebrity cried, “I love you guys!” in that fake way that American celebrities do, and you could almost hear the crowd thinking, “Bullshit. Now do what you’re here to do and you’ll deserve some applause, but don’t go thinking you’re better than us.”

The laid-back attitude of New Zealanders is no better exemplified than by a recent address by our prime minister. It was made from her couch, a few days after she’d given birth, holding her baby. Her voice was croaky and she wore no makeup. When she goes back to work – running the country – her partner will be a stay-at-home father.

Even if you didn’t vote for Labour, you have to agree that it’s a cool image for New Zealand, and I’ll miss being a part of it. I mean don’t get me wrong, New Zealand has its problems. There are still those that believe that our prime minister, as an unmarried mother, should not be celebrated. Just the other day, a friend of mine with a foreign accent was the victim of a shocking xenophobic attack.

On the whole, however, the voices of hatred seem quieter in New Zealand. How much of that is due to manipulation by the media, I don’t know. It will be interesting to compare for myself the general atmosphere in Britain, in Germany and in other European countries to the general atmosphere in New Zealand.

But now I must go. I must get back to working, packing up the house, cleaning, preparing for the trip AND being involved in my theatre troop’s latest show. We open in three days. Yes, life is hectic. Yes, I shall be very relieved to get to Europe and relax. We’ll be taking our trip a lot slower than we did last time!

To read more about our previous Euro trip, see A New Zealander’s View of Britain and European Stereotypes: Confirmed or Busted?

To read more about my infamous tantrum in Edinburgh, see Last Night of the Poms: The Story of Our Move to New Zealand.

To find out more about the show I’m involved in, see The Meteor Theatre.

Proof That New Zealanders Really Are Hobbits

On my first day of school in New Zealand, I was shocked to discover that no one was wearing shoes. I was ten years old, a recent immigrant, and my classmates were actually laughing at me for wearing shoes.

I found it strange to say the least. Where I’d just come from, England, the opposite would’ve happened: you’d get laughed at for not wearing shoes.

I remember asking a girl why she and the other kids weren’t wearing shoes.

“Dunno,” she replied in her upwardly inflecting Kiwi accent. “It’s more comfy wearing bare feet, I s’pose.”

shoes-for-kids-930176_960_720As she turned away, I struggled to undo the confused knot my face had become. How was it more comfortable to not wear shoes outside, walking over concrete, gravel and bark chippings? (I was also laughed at for saying ‘bark chippings’ instead of simply ‘bark’.) I could understand not wearing shoes on the school field, but some kids walked home ‘in bare feet’ as well.

Maybe it’s cooler, I thought. It was quite warm, after all, even though it was August – winter in New Zealand.

I should mention that this story takes place in Waiuku, a small town surrounded by farmland and beaches. You don’t see many people walking around barefoot in New Zealand’s cities. You do see some though.

footprint-648194_960_720I’ve talked about this before, (in Kiwis, Kiwis and Kiwis: The People of New Zealand.) I met a kid who’d had a slither of broken glass stuck in their foot for the past few days. They didn’t seem too bothered by it, though. Their soles were so thick and toughened from years of going barefoot that it barely even hurt. I watched, oddly fascinated, as they casually dug it out with a needle.

What more proof do you need that New Zealanders really are hobbits?

feet-830503_960_720My experience of being laughed at for wearing shoes is far from unique. Recently, I read an article in the Hamilton Press – that’s the free paper that keeps appearing in our letterbox – about a 105-year-old woman with similar memories to mine. She moved to New Zealand from England nearly 100 years ago – way back in 1918. Apparently, all the children at the local school went barefoot and called her a sissy for wearing shoes. As a result, she took her shoes off as soon as she arrived at school each day. Her feet became tough. Kiwi feet. Hobbit feet.

It’s funny how things don’t change. My feet have never hardened, though.

A few months ago, some people I know – Kiwis – clubbed together to buy a PS4 for one of their mates. He’d recently been burgled, you see, so this was an awesome act of friendship. They tricked him into accompanying them into an electronics store and surprised him, filming his reaction on a cell phone. This is the video – it went kinda viral:

As well as praise, it attracted quite a few nasty comments. (Well, duh, it was posted on the Internet.) Most of the nasty comments were from non-Kiwis disgusted at the guys’ lack of shoes. Another video was made to address the issue. I want to show it to you because it’s a lovely insight into this particular aspect of Kiwi culture. The guys are just so down-to-earth and light-heartedly funny about it – so Kiwi about it – that it makes me smile. Here it is:

Lake Wainamu

Lake Wainamu is a place not many people know about. Out at Bethells Beach, on Auckland’s west coast, it’s a peaceful spot of understated beauty, surrounded by low hills. You get to it either by trudging across sand dunes for about ten minutes, or by walking along a shallow river. The river way takes longer, but is less strenuous. Besides, it’s usually too hot to walk across the sand dunes barefoot; walking through the river is nice and soothing.

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Lake Wainamu is great for swimming in, being so calm. It gets very deep very quickly, however, so I wouldn’t recommend going in unless you actually know how to swim. Swimming isn’t the only activity on offer at the lake, though. The sand dunes slope down to the river pretty sharply, making them the perfect place to try sand surfing. Definitely take a boogie board with you and slide on down!

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You can also walk around the lake; there’s a proper track that does a full circuit. It takes an hour or two, but it’s worth it because hidden away behind the lake is a rather pretty swimming hole with a waterfall. Be warned, though – it’s bloody freezing! At some point around the lake track, close to the main beach, there’s a tree that leans out over the water. Local kids like to use it as a diving board.

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I’d recommend wearing old clothes and shoes when you visit the lake, because everything gets full of black sand. Black sand is notoriously clingy! I’m still scraping it off my scalp from two days ago and, yes, I have washed my hair! It is luxuriously soft, though. And the silvery dunes are starkly beautiful.

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Countless films, music videos, TV series and adverts have been filmed on the dunes. You can well imagine Xena having an epic duel across them, and we passed yet another film crew when we were there two days ago. They wouldn’t tell us what they were filming, but there were two guys in suits with guns. I didn’t envy the suited-up actors – the sun was blazing! I’d resorted to using my umbrella as a parasol:

LakeWainamu2

My boyfriend, being a tough Kiwi, was less prepared. Even though our group was planning on walking to the lake over the dunes, and not through the river, he didn’t bring shoes. He thought about bringing shoes, but then did the usual Kiwi thing of thinking ‘she’ll be ’right’ and left them behind. Sure enough, the sand was far too hot to walk on, but – lo! – Kiwi ingenuity to the rescue! He fashioned shoes out of towels and walked to the lake thusly:

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So… Lake Wainamu. It’s ‘becoming far too popular with non-locals’ and it’s easy to see why. If you’re visiting Bethells Beach, give yourself some time to walk to the lake as well. It’s completely free and there are lots of things to explore. Here’s how to find it.

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Don’t Be a ‘Whinging Pom’

‘Whinging pom’ is an expression often used by New Zealanders. It refers, of course, to a complaining English person. If someone is annoying someone else with their moaning, they’ll be told to stop acting like a pom.

It’s not an expression I thought about until I came across an English immigrant whinging about it a few weeks ago, (completely missing the irony of the fact.) It was in an Internet comments section – I know, I know, never read the comments! – so, naturally, the English immigrant’s response to a Kiwi’s comment about ‘whinging poms’ included an attack on the Kiwi’s spelling of the word ‘pom’.

“It should be spelt ‘POME’, as it is an acronym of ‘Prisoner of Mother England’,” they said. And, rather satisfyingly, they were wrong. pomegranate

The ‘Prisoner of Mother England’ thing is an etymological myth. It seems that the word ‘pom’ actually comes from ‘pomegranate’ – the red-skinned fruit – because that’s what the British people’s faces looked like when they encountered the Australian sunshine.

But, anyway, the point is that this English person was getting extremely worked up and offended over the Kiwi’s use of the expression ‘whinging pom’. Now, I am an English immigrant myself. I have no problem with the word ‘pom’ – I’ve used it in the title of this very blog, after all – and, thinking about it, I have no problem with the expression ‘whinging pom’ either. It’s a perfectly legitimate stereotype.

complaining-154204_640The English are world-class complainers. We freely admit this about ourselves. Complaining is a national pastime. Along with queuing. Which nicely provides us with something else to complain about. It’s no wonder the rest of world has noticed too!

It’s not exactly a recent stereotype. Back in the 1780’s, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – a very famous German literary figure – journeyed around Italy, writing a diary as he went. At some point, he met some English tourists, who, of course, were noteworthy for the amount of complaining they did.

When my Kiwi boyfriend and I were visiting England’s Lake District last year, we overheard an English couple complaining about their recent holiday to New Zealand: “Oh, it was lovely scenery and everything, but New Zealand’s supposed to have lots of sheep and we hardly saw any, did we? In fact, we’ve seen far more sheep here than we ever saw in New Zealand.”

sheep-151666_640Admittedly New Zealand doesn’t have as many sheep per person as it used to, but there’s still a lot!

Now, I’m not saying that New Zealanders don’t complain, because of course they do. But they definitely don’t complain as much as English people do. I mean one of the most popular Kiwi expressions is ‘she’ll be right’, which means ‘no worries’. Notice that it’s not a popular English expression.

Kiwis are descended from hardy frontier folk who didn’t have the luxury of complaining. They just had to get on with it. No wonder English people seem particularly whiny to New Zealanders.

excalibur-145647_640Also, it’s important for New Zealanders to feel superior to the English sometimes. England has often made New Zealanders feel inferior in a ‘you should be grateful to us for being descended from/civilised by us, but you’re only ignorant colonials’ kind of way. I once called someone an ‘ignorant colonial’ and ‘uncultured barbarian’ because they admitted to never having seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Needless to say I corrected this oversight and they were more than grateful for it.

So, if you’re English, don’t be get all offended by the term ‘whinging pom’. There’s no need. As stereotypes go, it’s pretty fair. Besides, getting offended by it only serves to perpetuate it. Chill out, mate. She’ll be right.

whingingpom

Find out more about Kiwi attitudes in Kiwis, Kiwis and Kiwis: The People of New Zealand

That’s in Australia, Right?

A British Person who’s Never Been to New Zealand’s View of New Zealand

Three months ago, my boyfriend and I went to England. I was born in England, but have lived in New Zealand since I was ten years old. My boyfriend was born in New Zealand.

First Hobbit Hole

No, I don’t live in a house like this. I just wish I did.

Despite having lived in New Zealand for over half my life, I still consider England home. I was surprised, therefore, to find myself feeling very protective of New Zealand. Whenever a British person referred to it or any of its sons as Australian, for example, I felt more than the mild stirrings of Kiwi indignation.

It’s strange. I’ve always laughed at the New Zealander’s desperation to be relevant in the wider world, but when I hear someone say that Lorde is from Australia…! I mean I’m not even especially fond of Lorde’s music, much as I admire her as a person, but she’s definitely from New Zealand. Which is not Australia. It’s a completely separate country.

A bit of White Island

White Island… I was kind of right…

Before I moved to New Zealand, I didn’t know it was separate from Australia. In fact, I thought it was ‘that little triangle bit at the bottom of Australia’ – Tasmania. I thought it was a swampy, Lost World kind of place with recently-surviving dinosaurs and a myriad of volcanoes constantly spewing rivers of lava. How all the sheep survived that, I didn’t give a thought to.

Now, you can forgive a small child for thinking this, but I didn’t realise that so many British adults still think New Zealand is part of Australia. They think it’s a backward place of rudimentary technology. One person I talked to was shocked when I told them that New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote.

“Oh, New Zealand, eh?” said another person, sitting on a park bench in York. “That’s full of dangerous animals, isn’t it?”

“No, that’s Australia,” I said for what felt like the thousandth time. “All we’ve got to worry about in New Zealand are orcs.” (I became apt at pre-empting the jokes. Good thing I like Lord of the Rings.)

Culture 3cropped

See? Sheep. Are you happy?

At least Brits get some New Zealand stereotypes right. The weather is quite nice and the whole country is rugby-mad. And, yes, it is green – although, to be honest, Brits are probably better at recycling, actually.

To be fair, this view of New Zealand isn’t just held by British people. When we were in Germany, we stayed at a hotel that recorded our home address as ‘… Auckland, New Zealand, Australia, Oceania’.

We just so happened to be in Britain at the same time as the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. We watched the opening ceremony, not knowing whether to laugh or cringe at the devastation of the Proclaimers’ song I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), and eagerly awaiting the entrance of New Zealand. What a proud moment. Lorde was played during Australia’s entrance, and New Zealand was treated as just another small, insignificant Pacific island.

nzwine

Yes, very nice wines…

That’s when it hit me: New Zealand kind of is just another small, insignificant Pacific island. Britain is in line at the front of the world’s stage; New Zealand is beneath its notice. Yes, it’s a dream holiday destination, and it does produce some very nice wines, but it doesn’t matter.

This realisation was a bit of a shock to the system. When you live in New Zealand, you’re constantly being told how great New Zealand is. The New Zealand media works to give the impression that the world takes more notice of New Zealand than it actually does.

At least when people do notice New Zealand, it’s usually with a benevolent eye.

“Oh, you’re from New Zealand, are you?” people in Britain would say to me. Then they’d say, “Why would you want to come back here?”

Just remember:

10 Reasons Living in New Zealand is AWESOME

I moved to New Zealand with my family twelve years ago. At first, I hated my parents for wrenching me away from Mother England, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. New Zealand is a great country to live in and here’s why:

1)      Nice weather

Somewhere Over the RainbowIt’s common for New Zealanders to complain about the weather. The phrase ‘four seasons in one day’ is used annoyingly often, yet while it can be gloriously sunny in the morning, fooling you into leaving your jacket at home, and then bucket it down in the afternoon, it’s rarely bad for long. Coming from Britain, I can confidently say that New Zealand’s weather is better. It is warmer, drier, sunnier and generally more cheerful. There’s a reason New Zealand’s famous for barbecues and Britain’s not.

2)      Beautiful beaches

Beach 1Nearly three-quarters of all New Zealanders live within five kilometres of a beach, most of which are ten times more beautiful than any beach that Britain has to offer. They are less spoiled for starters, boasting not only pristine sands of the yellow and white variety, but luxurious soft, black volcanic sand. They range from wild, rugged surfing beaches to relaxing swimming and sunbathing beaches, all with picturesque geological features. In Britain, going to the beach was a rare treat; now I can walk to one whenever I want. New Zealand’s beaches are truly a wonder.

3)      Lots of green countryside

In Britain, one of the main things you hear about New Zealand is how green it is. Mostly, this is meant in the sense of the ‘clean, green’ environmentally friendly image, but New Zealand is also green in a literal sense: there is a great deal of protected, unspoiled countryside. Kiwis seem to have an innate appreciation for nature – the great outdoors; God’s own – and pursuits such as camping and tramping are very popular. New Zealand’s native bush is incredibly special and the ‘bush walk’ is something you cannot escape if you come here.

4)      Unique wildlife

New Zealand Tour 2003 003Contained within New Zealand’s bush is a collection of endangered birds that exist nowhere else in the world, the most famous of which is the kiwi. I have never encountered a kiwi in the wild, but seeing a mating pair at Auckland Zoo was an enchanting (and highly amusing) experience. I’ve seen plenty of other examples of New Zealand’s unique wildlife actually in the wild, though. My two favourite native birds are tuis – songbirds with shining plumage adorned by a duet of white baubles at the throat – and keas – alpine parrots with devilish intelligence and barefaced cheek. New Zealand is also the best place in the world to swim with dolphins.

5)      Exotic volcanic activity

White Island 018Depending on your point of view, an abundance of volcanic activity may not seem like a reason to live in a country, but everything – the threat of natural disaster included – is relative, and I for one love living within easy driving distance of the utterly magical sights of geysers, hot pools, mud pools and lava flows. Britain seems boring by comparison. There’s something mysteriously exciting about the eggy smell; the steam rising around you; the thought that the hidden underworld is close at hand. Places like Rotorua and White Island are literally on the edges of the earth.

6)      Small population

Culture 3New Zealand is famous for being a small country – its population has only recently broken the four million mark. Compare that with Britain’s excess of sixty million. But what many people don’t realise is the actual land area of New Zealand is larger than the land area of Britain. No wonder it seems like Brits are perpetually elbowing each other out of the way to get to where they want to be. The people of New Zealand actually have space to breathe. To be individuals. To live.

7)      Friendly people

armageddon 13 001croppedKiwis are an undeniably friendly race. When I first moved to New Zealand, it was almost disconcerting how interested in me strangers were. Brits are so cold by comparison. They also whinge while kiwis maintain a more positive attitude. The people of New Zealand are not so judgemental – image is less important to them – and anything goes. New Zealand has no class system. People from all walks of life end up here. To me, it’s always felt like a safe place, but I didn’t realise how much I’d come to take that security for granted until I returned to England for a visit a few years ago. Kiwis smile at you in the street. If there’s anywhere in the world you can rely on the kindness of strangers, it’s New Zealand.

8)      Laid-back lifestyle

I was a child when my family immigrated to New Zealand, so while I can confidently say that school in New Zealand is easier than school in England, I have never experienced the demands of working life in any country other than New Zealand. However, every adult I’ve talked to who has tells me that life in New Zealand is far simpler than elsewhere in the western world. The wages may be lower, but the quality of life is definitely higher. Life is lived at a slower pace. There is a healthier work-life balance. In New Zealand, expectations are lower – in a good way. There is less pressure. Good enough is good enough. Go with the flow. She’ll be right.

9)      Multicultural society

Montana walkNew Zealand is a country of immigrants – even the Māori, the native inhabitants, are relatively recent arrivals. It is nice to live in a place where tribal culture and the values that go with it are still in evidence. The presence of Māori names, art, customs and tourist experiences make New Zealand unique in the world, not just another European/Americanised western country. Of course, New Zealand is a Europeanised country, but it has so many influences from so many places around the world, especially Asian countries, that it’s a complete melting pot. It has an abundance of wonderful and, compared to Britain at least, relatively cheap restaurants that serve delicious fusions of tastes. Since moving here, I’ve become a real foodie.

10)   It’s already the perfect place for a holiday

dunedin3 027New Zealand is the ultimate holiday destination – even if you already live in it. The country is so varied you can never tire of exploring it, so buy a campervan in New Zealand and get out there! Seriously, you can’t drive anywhere in New Zealand without passing at least one campervan on the road – and it’s easy to see why. This is not a country you can experience from one spot. The North Island is so different from the South; the east coast so different from the west, and it’s down the side roads that the special places lie. So my advice would be to hire a campervan in New Zealand when you come, be it to live or just for a holiday. One thing is guaranteed either way: you’ll never want to go back. Life in New Zealand is AWESOME.

P.S. – This is a list from my new website, NZ Top List. Check it out to browse more lists about life in New Zealand and the many fantastic places to go.

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Halloween and Bonfire Night in New Zealand

As I write this article, screeches, bangs and cracks punctuate my train of thought, accompanied by luminous colours at the dark window. It’s the fifth of November, but it won’t be for much longer.

I’m not celebrating – it’s a Tuesday night and it’s raining – and, besides, I went to a bonfire party last Saturday. I didn’t celebrate Halloween. That was last Thursday and my boyfriend had an exam the next day; Halloween isn’t that big in New Zealand anyway.

Some people would disagree with me – I mean it isn’t that big compared to America, or even Britain. It is celebrated: the occasional shop or café puts up decorations, one or two kids come to your door in token outfits, there are a few fancy dress dos… nothing major. Costume places make a huge effort, of course, but during my twelve years in New Zealand I’ve found that a much bigger deal is made out of Guy Fawkes, or Bonfire Night.

Because, you know, kiwis love explosions.

InfernoComing from Britain, Halloween in New Zealand has never seemed quite right to me in the first place. In the Northern Hemisphere, Halloween happens just as the world is about to be plunged into the darkness of winter; in the Southern Hemisphere, it happens as we’re entering summer. Nothing particularly spooky about that.

As for Bonfire Night, no one cares about its significance – it’s just an excuse to blow things up.

The sale of fireworks is illegal in New Zealand except for on the fifth of November itself and the three days preceding it, so you have to stock up in advance for your New Year celebrations. Also, rockets are banned. I found this fact disappointing when I first moved here, but so many people are irresponsible with fireworks that I’m now quite glad.

You always get teenagers sneaking fireworks into school and singeing their eyebrows. You always get drunken idiots holding them in their hands and firing them in any direction but the sky. And as for the people who aim them at animals… For some reason I find the thought of cruelty to animals worse than cruelty to other humans.

Thankfully, most people are responsible and all the bonfire celebrations I’ve been at have been good fun. Well… apart from this year’s. I’ve never feared for my life quite so much as at this particular bonfire party.

IMG_1072It was a large gathering. It took place on a big property with an appropriate field. There was an impressive bonfire going when we arrived.

There were three distinct groups of people: high schoolers, students and the parents of the high schoolers and students. Surprisingly enough, we, the students, were being sensible young adults, not letting off any fireworks, though this was because there were already heaps of fireworks going off around us. The high schoolers – (I find it amusing to be grumbling about ‘immature teenagers’ when I was a teenager so very recently) – weren’t paying attention to where they were pointing the fireworks, every so often sending one in our direction, causing us to scatter. The problem was that there weren’t really any safe places to scatter to, as, on the other side of us, the parents were being almost as bad, shooting fireworks into the bush!

It’s been a particularly dry year this year, so it was lucky the undergrowth didn’t catch fire. Oh, and just on the other side of the patch of trees was the neighbours’ house. But they were on holiday, so it was all right. Of course.

What’s the point of shooting fireworks into the bush anyway? You can’t see them properly. It’s a waste.

Maybe it would explain a lot if I told you that this bonfire party took place in West Auckland.

IMG_1083I attended another bonfire in West Auckland several years ago. It was in a huge field that had an old caravan in it. Someone had a dog that was running madly around and around the bonfire. Then someone threw a stick onto the bonfire and the stupid dog followed it.

It was fine! Relax! There was a hose on hand. Its fur was just a bit frizzled.

The best Bonfire Night I ever had was when my mum, my dad, my sister and I went to our friends’ house in… well I’d better not tell you where. My parents are teachers, and all their friends are teachers, and I was a student at the high school where my parents and their friends taught. And this house we went to was next-door to the school.

Now, this group of us, which included several teachers of this high school and all their children, had a load of fireworks to set off, including ground bloom flowers, those ones that spin on the ground and you can battle them like tops. The garden, however, was a bit small, and there was nowhere to safely set the ground bloom flowers off. What we needed was a large, flat, concreted or tarmaced area – where better than the school quad?

So we sent the little fireworks spinning off across the quad and had a lot of fun.

Then cold, harsh light of Monday morning came. I was in assembly and a rather annoyed school principal was standing at the lectern.

“I would like the students responsible for the large scorch marks on the quad to do the honourable thing and come forward.”

I sat there stifling my laughter as I imagined the sheepish looks that must have been crossing particular teachers’ faces. No one came forward.

new frame brazierI suppose a good thing about Halloween and Bonfire Night in New Zealand is it’s a lot warmer being outside than it is in England. It’s probably safer for kids to go trick-or-treating too. There are also more open spaces to let off fireworks, although you do have to be careful about starting bush fires. There are many ‘FIRE DANGER TODAY’ signs around the rural areas of New Zealand, which have a moveable arrow indicating the current level of risk. Depending on the ‘fire season’ and the council, you may need a permit to light a bonfire, but you aren’t likely to be granted that permit if the risk is ‘HIGH’ or higher. Just be sensible.