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NZ, not just mountains and rings: Kiwiana

November 16, 2008

Kiwiana can best be described as all things kitsch and unique to New Zealand. To understand the New Zealand psyche, you really have to understand and accept kiwiana. You don’t have to appreciate it, that takes sacrifice – a sacrifice in all things beautiful. But you do need humour to accept it.

Kiwiana icons can generally be found in New Zealand’s rural heartland. A lot of these icons have been around since the 60s if not earlier. Some are strangely strange, others are works of art.

Unless you are travelling through the small rural centres and provincial towns, you will seldom come across these icons. True there can be a certain a glare factor when you see some of them. But here’s the deal with them: each icon tells a story, one of history, culture, significance and pride to that area. Some of them told in bronze, others told in kitsch. Humour often underlies the icon and story. A humour that enables us laugh at ones self, not to take life too seriously, and have a “get over it” attitude. This all in essence, forms the kiwi psyche.

These icons may not enrapture you, but some travellers I know simply enjoy them for what they are.

by Joe May

by Joe May

And that is the point of them. Have look, a laugh, and go about your day. Don’t take them too seriously.

If you are curious and want to know more, you can visit Wikipedia’s kiwiana . And enjoy the eccentricities.

I really think some tour company should provide visitors with a Kiwiana tour programme. I’d be at the top of the list. How about you?

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. Bear permalink
    November 17, 2008 1:10 am

    The airplane is painted in choco chip cookies! Cool. And the effort! Trucking it in and reassemblimg it — the drive for Kiwiana has to be appreciated 🙂

  2. November 17, 2008 9:36 am

    Cute plane and yes kiwiana is a unique appreciation of items unique to NZ, some of the least obvious are the most amazing, like Shrek the overgrown sheep.

    Good to see rest rest of the world finding out about kiwi iconicity

  3. November 18, 2008 2:44 am

    Hey there Christine, thanks for your comment. I don’t know the Shrek one, it sounds funny. Must google that or better – fly to NZ and take a shot of it.
    I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. November 19, 2008 10:09 am

    I love your kiwiana tour program idea. I always thought NZ was one of the best countries for kitsch travel. Japan, the U.S. and Russia (oddly enough) are up there too. But, you are right, there’s something uniquely New Zealand about kiwiana.

  5. November 20, 2008 3:09 am

    Russia, now thats interesting.That would be a good one to blog about as well. The list grows. I’m glad people are enjoying this post. I did it in repsonse to the negative comments about NZs kitch icons made in the latest edition of the Lonely Planet guide on NZ. Like I mentioned – humour is important when looking at these things.


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