Letters from Southern Man

IMMagine New Zealand Immigration Blog

Posts in category: Lighthearted

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Letters from the Southern Man

Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork, its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people. 

Understanding New Zealand is paramount to your immigration survival and to give you a realistic view of the country, its people and how we see the world, read our weekly Southern Man blogs. Often humorous, sometimes challenging, but always food for thought.

That Summer Feeling

Posted by danni on May 6, 2016, 8:07 p.m. in Lighthearted

One thing that surprised me as a South African migrant was just how summery New Zealand is so much of the time. 

Maybe it’s because I’m from Johannesburg that being surrounded by beaches means “holiday” to me, but I’ve travelled quite a bit and really think that Auckland in particular has one of the nicest, most ‘summery’ summers ever. And it seems to last forever too…

A few short weeks ago I started writing a blog post about this in the midst of a scorcher of a summer – a post sparked by having to slow my car down to allow what can only be described as a shimmy across the street to the big blue ocean by a gaggle of ladies (all over 70), their polka dot towels flung over their bikinied bodies. Even today – and it’s definitely cooling down – on my way to work I saw two people frolicking in what must have been a pretty cold ocean in the mist at 7am. We South Africans don’t believe this kind of life will be the case when moving to New Zealand! Not weather wise necessarily but this perpetual summer feeling.

It’s so beautiful and temperate so much of the time and while it does rain, it’s often just a mild spurt a few times a minute. For the remaining seconds it’s really quite pleasant and often quite bright and sunny...(sometimes experiences committment issues, the weather does).

Having looked up the average rainfall for both cities, it seems it rains twice as much in volume in Auckland as in Johannesburg. Sometimes it rains hard for days at a time…but it doesn’t happen too often. (And it’s quite nice when it does, isn’t it?)

Before moving to New Zealand I was sure the weather would be different and particularly rainy and a lot of potential migrants do too - while it’s different (lightning storms are pretty scarce, I miss those on the Highveld) it’s never felt “rainy”. It still looks and feels like I’m on holiday outside so much of the time - 6 years and counting. 

Last weekend my husband was lucky enough to be invited aboard a 50ft yacht for a sail through the Hauraki gulf – the weather was perfect although autumn has definitely started taper off. That summer feeling really never does! (Have a look at the shots below he got from the ferry on his commute to work in the city from Gulf Harbour - these photos are a day apart although a very extreme example!)

Day 1 - Gulf Harbour to Auckland City Commute


Day 2 - Gulf Harbour to Auckland City Commute


This week at Little Manly beach on the Hibiscus Coast (close to where two of us from IMMagine live and about 45 minutes from the city) locals were treated to a visit by a pod of dolphins. Not just once but every single day for almost a week. On one occasion when the dolphins where particularly close to shore, they stayed for nearly 7 hours just playing with the people who’d gathered in the water to be with them. 

It even got a mention on the news – you can read about it and see some pictures here. I saw this spectacle right in my back yard and thought…you can’t beat this. It’s a good place to live and honestly, the weather’s great. Mostly.

- Danni Balsaras, Auckland Office 


New Ausland

Posted by danni on April 15, 2016, 6:07 p.m. in Lighthearted

One of Crowded House’s most well known songs is called “Better Be Home Soon” – but where, actually, is “home” to the band?

This is just one of the topics Australians and Kiwis argue over in what’s often termed a “sibling rivalry” between the two countries. It’s a question many of us ‘down under’ have heatedly discussed (and that includes New Zealand, by the way. Given its geographical location, you might say NZ is even further "under" than Australia but let's not argue!) - Are Crowded House a Kiwi band, or are they Australian?

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the banter between these two brother nations. It doesn’t help the ego of either to learn that many people around the world admit to not even knowing that Australia and New Zealand are individual countries to begin with! Who could forget the Olympics faux pas when our medal count was combined for the country "New Ausland"?

I must admit I enjoy the rivalry – when two countries have the time and inclination to focus on things like who really invented the Pavlova, it means that they’re clearly not desperately trying to avoid being hijacked in South Africa or blackening of their children’s lungs from the filthy, polluted air in parts of Asia.

My husband, upon touching ground in New Zealand, declared himself an instant Kiwi by immediately denouncing any form of affection for Australia and adopting the ‘Pavlova Stance’. He said it’s a rite of passage into Kiwihood! He can’t be blamed – his South African father is notorious for saying that he supports the Springboks “and any team playing against Australia” so the country was never given a fair chance in his eyes.

I can only speak from my own perspective, but frankly, I love Australians. (I can hear the wailing from my New Zealand office mates and the cheering from my colleagues in Melbourne…) Maybe you need to be a real Kiwi to really feel it, but I love their slightly dark humour, their often brash approach, their ‘salt-of-the-earth’ realness and as a South African, I especially love their accents. (And yes, fellow Saffas, it is possible to tell the accents apart…eventually!) 

As for the actual country of Australia – the contrast of beauty and danger in the wilderness, the great expanse of the Outback, the harshness of the land and environment – all of that is character building! I often joke that I’ll send my kids to school in the Outback so that they develop strong spines and the ability to defend themselves. It’s not that this is impossible in New Zealand, but it is a more delicate comparison! (On the North Island, anyway. My husband always reminds me that the South Island exists and that the environment there is harsh in many ways, too.)

I put together this list of some of the things both the Aussies & Kiwis lay claim to, just for fun:

Crowded House
Crowded House were a rock band formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1985. The founding members were New Zealander Neil Finn (vocalist, guitarist, primary songwriter) and Australians Paul Hester (drums) and Nick Seymour (bass). So if you're going by numbers, Australia should probably take this one...(sorry, Paul) - although, granted, Neil's Kiwi brother Tim joined the band later which balanced it out a little. 

Crowded House - Kiwi or Aussie?

Phar Lap
Champion horse Phar Lap, the thoroughbred foaled in New Zealand but trained and raced in Australia where he forged an incredible career. Phar Lap was best known for being much faster than other horses and has since been a disputed possession for both nations.

Phar Lap

The Pavlova
In 2007, insurance company NZI ran a humorous series of television advertisements in New Zealand highlighting what are locally considered to be historic New Zealand icons being adopted elsewhere, including the pavlova playing on its status as a common feature of the friendly trans-Tasman rivalry. NZI's parent company is Australian owned!

The Pavlova...who's is it?

Russell Crowe
Well, I'm not sure why either country wants to claim him, but he was in fact born in New Zealand. What's really funny is after Mel Gibson (who was born in Australia) lost the plot and became the anti-semetic lunatic he is, Australia instantly disowned him and called him an American!

Russell Crowe

To be honest, while researching the finer points of this post I found very few Australians ranting about New Zealanders, and many New Zealanders expressing their thoughts about Australians – make of that what you will! – perhaps there’s an underlying sense of living in Australia’s shadow, and Kiwis do not like that.

New Zealand has a very strong sense of “little New Zealand nationalism” whereby we take national pride in being small and punching above our weight. We revel in being the plucky country that surprises everyone. The two countries do however share language and cultural traits as well as similar political, legal and economic institutions. The Anzac spirit forged at Gallipoli in 1915 has endured through theatres of war in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia and the way I see it is, like brothers we are rivals. But in war & times of crisis, we are united.

Just don’t mention the rugby...

- Danielle Balsaras, Marketing Coordinator, Auckland Office