Are Kiwis rude?

This is a question that I have been trying to answer since I arrived in New Zealand four and a half years ago. (You can click the 'rude kiwis' label to read my earlier posts on the subject)

For those who haven't followed the whole story, here's a quick recap:

Being from America, I tend to like Americans. What was 'normal' behavior for Americans, in my humble opinion, was (mostly) having strangers in the store or on the street make eye contact and smile. 
It was (mostly) courteous drivers who looked out for pedestrians. 
It was (mostly) people staying out of the walkways so others can easily maneuver around you. 
It was (mostly) those in places of respect and responsibility holding their tongue until they get the facts straight. 
It was (mostly) drivers allowing you to pull out of a parking space in safety, even if they didn't intend to use your space.
It was (mostly) courteous salespeople who smile and speak to you and act as if they know you are the reason they have a job.
It was (mostly) folks willing to do 'the dance' with you with a smile.[You know 'the dance'...that shuffle you both do back and forth, trying to decide who is going to which side so you can both get through a tight space, all the while looking at each other and smiling (or trying not to giggle)].

These things don't exist in any abundance in Taranaki. Here in Stratford, there is little tourism and thus, Hubby has been trying to convince me that it is in solely this area folk that are lacking American-style congenialities and not the country as a whole.When we go to other areas of this country, things are a bit more friendly, as Hubby is quick to point out. However, those are usually touristy places and, to me, it's logical PR to be nice to tourists.

Well, after our vacation holiday to the South Island, I am going to have to say that I believe he was right all along!

We stayed in Richmond (just south of the large city of Nelson) which has a population of about 15,000 (with lots of tourists staying the night and passing through). Of course, there was the world-wide obligatory summer road construction going on just outside the entrance to our rental but we never had a problem getting out in traffic because there was always a driver that let us out. I was gobsmacked.

I went shopping a couple of times at the local Pac N Save (huge chain store) and only once did I find a shopping cart trolley in the middle of the aisle unattended. The check out ladies were smiling and chatty. It was wonderful!!

In the parking lot, drivers patiently waited until others pulled away before getting into the abandoned spot--unlike Taranaki, where they would be in the spot before you could get the car out of 'reverse'.

In the mall (yes, an actual mall, not a string of 4 storefronts together), children were chided to behave. When Hubby spoke to a little girl of 3 or so that had bolted away from Mum, Mum smiled and spoke instead of giving Hubby 'the stare'.

One day, he also got actual comments on his t-shirt (it says 'save the planet, duct tape can't fix everything') for the first time in the 3 years he's been wearing it. 

I feel like we were in a different world for the time we were there. Maybe it was the size of the town. Maybe it was the 'touristy' mentality. Maybe it was other tourists who were the polite ones. I don't know.

But I do know that Hubby was impressed enough to put that area at the top of our list of possible places to move to when the kids get out of school. I can't say I blame him. And I certainly don't disagree.


Jenny @ Practically Perfect... said...

I think that it really must depend on where you live (and where you came from in America). I lived most of my life in Indiana, but also lived in Boston for awhile. Boston and Massachusetts in general is regarded to be a pretty rude area - terrible drivers, no smiles or chit-chat in the checkout lanes of the grocery, and difficult to make friends (not impossible - just difficult). We live in Auckland, now, and I know that the rest of NZ seems to think that Auckland is the cesspool of New Zealand, but I've been pleased with how friendly people are - on the street, in stores, at work, etc. It sounds like your little area is just a rude place to live, which stinks, but hopefully you'll be able to move soon :-)

Menopausal New Mom said...

I was very interested in this post. I remember visiting Nelson on the South Island and staying at a nice B&B close to the ferry terminal.

I've found New Zealander's to be the friendliest and nicest people UNLESS they are behind the wheel of a car and then all bets are off. I was so shocked that I could not cross a street without running before the walk like turned etc. I remember when I was about 6 months pregnant (and it was obvious), I nearly got run down on a traffic circle by a lady who must have been 80 years old. I managed to jump back out of the way.

I'm from Canada where we are known for being friendly and I found New Zealanders just as friendly anywhere OUTSIDE of their cars. I remember being shocked at the tally each evening on the news of all the fatal car accidents. Scary!

Bella @Bellgetsreal said...

Maybe you need to move?!?! ha

My sister stayed about 9 months in Nelson and she loved it. She often speaks of how friendly everyone was and wondered if it was because she was american. She swears they loved her accent. haha

PS I hope you had a chance to enter my giveaway

Desiree said...

Not having ever visited NZ, I'm not able to comment at all, but I'm so pleased to hear you've revived your earlier opinions. It's definitely a lot more pleasant to be treated respectfully, no matter where in the world one happens to be. South Africans are naturally very friendly people and so I tend to take it for granted, imagining that it's the same everywhere.

So glad you'd had such an enjoyable and 'friendly' holiday :)

merinz said...

Often NZers are a little like the English, they will wait for you to make the first move, then they will become very friendly. (apart from when driving cars of course then its every man/woman for himself!)

hummer said...

I have to say it. Oh my, I love the saying on your hubby's tshirt. LOL...duct tape, is a funny around our home.
I must say there are areas where the arms are just not open wide, but then again, you can ascribe to the Edwin Markham poem: He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had wit to win
we drew a circle that took him in.
Love your blog. Hugs,

Sandra said...

Glad you found the "Friendlies!"
I like how you made sure to say "mostly" when giving your description of North Americans!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately i had bad experience with them in Australia.

kura said...

Are you still here Anonymous? it sounds to me as though you have a penchant towards finding things to hate. Now here’s the thing; do yourself a favour and return forthwith to the Utopia from which you allude to have come from.