Being Kiwi

Tourist drivers from North America often encounter unfamiliar things in Aotearoa/New Zealand, such as unsealed mountain roads, roundabouts, and one-lane bridges -- not to mention the fact that we drive on the left side of the road.

The bridge type below will be unfamiliar to urban drivers: it denotes a shared rail/road bridge. This picture shows the recently repainted bridge over the Taramakau on the West Coast of NZ's South Island.

Taramakau road/rail bridge on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand

The road sign below was apparently spotted in NZ in April 2003 by an amused tourist. I noticed this picture on the web via the CBC's Writers & Company Aotearoa New Zealand literature list.


Any NZer would know to take this sign very seriously. It depicts an endangered kiwi bird, which is a national icon.

Kiwi vs. kiwifruit

A kiwi is an endangered flightless bird indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand.

A Kiwi (usually with a capital K) is a colloquialism for a human being from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Either way, A KIWI IS NOT A FRUIT!

Ergo, cutting one -- let alone eating one -- would be a local crime or a violation of international endangered species treaties.

The thing you eat is called a kiwifruit. Calling a kiwifruit a "kiwi" is like calling a pineapple a "pine" or a strawberry a "straw" - ie, inaccurate.


The best way to eat a kiwifruit is to cut it in half with a knife, and then scoop out the yummy insides with a teaspoon. The brown, hairy skin is not supposed to be eaten.

Kiwifruit are best when they are slightly soft but not squishy. If you buy an unripe (firm) kiwifruit, which I usually do because they keep well, the quickest way to ripen one naturally is to put it in a paper bag with a cut apple.

The kiwifruit is actually indigenous to China. Since other countries than NZ joined the kiwifruit business, the NZ product has been given a makeover and is now called Zespri. The colour of a kiwifruit's insides is green (original version) or golden (Zespri) when ready to eat. Enjoy your scurvy prevention!

Kiwi language

One delicious source of information is a chemist's view on Kiwi slang - enjoy!

Another essential part of Aotearoa (the original name for New Zealand) is the Māori language - Te Reo Māori. It is one of three official languages of NZ: the others are English and NZ Sign Language.

NZ identity

The best extant piece of writing I have yet seen encapsulating modern-day Kiwi identity is New Zealand Dreams, by Witi Ihimaera. Well worth your time to read. There's also this gem by John Clarke (aka Fred Dagg), R.I.P.