Differences between NZ and the US

Mum Lil asked me what I noticed about New Zealand that is different from home, other than the accent.  The terrain and climate vary so much from place to place in the US that I suppose someplace could be found that is similar.  To my eyes, the sky seems to routinely contain more moisture than the usual Kansas sky.  The land seems greener, more lush, like Kansas in the spring.  This is the end of summer here.  Apparently the last couple of years have been dryer here, producing more of a brown color at this time of the year.  The part of NZ in which Ngaire’s farm is situated has small farms.  There are large hills, clumps of trees, often conifers of some sort.

I know little of the birds except that Magpies are ubiquitous and very loud.  Mum often refers to them as Crows (they are about that size.  There are some other dark colored birds that are built a little like small chickens.  A Harrier Hawk (NZ variety) flies around the farm regularly. 

One contrast between life in the US and life here seems to me to be the size of the footprint each life makes.  There seems to be less need for non-utilitarian luxuries.  There is beauty and elegance but without pretention, not just stuff for the sake of having stuff.  Ngaire’s brother Vic has a pristine bright red 14-year-old Jaguar in his garage and a Harley that some would kill for.  They bring him joy and satisfaction.  He maintains them meticulously. There seem to be fewer unnecessary trappings gathered and less waste produced per person by the Kiwi (the most common word used to refer to the people of New Zealand). 

The water at the house is collected from the rainfall on the roof, stored in a cistern, and filtered as it is pumped out of the cistern for use.   There is a well that provides water for the rest of the farm.  If there is not enough water to keep the cistern full at the peak of summer, a hose will bring that water in to compensate.  It is a deep well with good water. 

The eggs come from the chickens and meat from the occasional slaughtered beast (cattle or sheep).  The garden provides fresh vegetables, supplemented by what comes from the supermarket.  An electric heat pump provides what is needed for any weather extremes.  Temperatures vary, but not to the extremes found in Kansas. 

Non-meat food scraps are gathered to be tossed into the compost heap.  Everything that can be recycled is recycled.  Meat scraps and whatever cannot be disposed of in any other way goes into the offal hole, a deep hole in the ground dug specifically for that purpose using an auger.    

The cattle and sheep feed on the grass.  The chickens run free and get regular feedings to supplement what they find.  Often the solution to a need of one sort or another is an exchange, a barter of goods or services or land use.  All of this is hardly unfamiliar to any who have lived on a farm.  It seems that such practical, efficient use of resources, minimizing waste is about the future as well as the past. 

There is certainly no lack of comfort here.  I have been feasting on huge meals, dreading more and more the days of hiking, nourished by granola bars, trail mix and one hot meal a day of dried food cooked in a single pot. 

Based on what I saw in Auckland, on the bus and train trips, at the University of Hamilton, it appears to me that there is far less obesity here than in the US.  In fact that is the first and most obvious difference in my observation.  People seem to be fit.  If I had not heard from the media in the US that there is an epidemic of obesity there, I would have drawn that conclusion anyway from my time here so far.  Lil and Ngaire have responded that the problem of obesity is growing here also.  Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s are common here.  The first fast food restaurant here that I recognized was a Subway.  I hope there will be the occasional Subway on the South Island as I move from place to place.  Veggies and healthful choices will help fill out my diet. 

I have come to appreciate how hard and demanding physically it is to maintain a farm.  The morning chores and evening chores are relentless.  The reluctant cattle need to be moved along a long lane with a couple of turns through a cluster of gates adjusted appropriately in advance – Belle is a great help (sometimes) in gathering them and heading them in the right direction.  The skill at making decisions relative to the purchase and sale of animals is added to the physical demands. 

Ngaire is also a Registered Nurse, who has done nursing most of her life.  When John was sick, the balance of doing the work of two on the farm, continuing her paid job as a Nurse, and dealing with the demands of caring for John combined to produce an almost impossible load.   As with all those in our online group of Caregiving Spouses, she got it all done – not sure how, but she got it done. 

New Zealanders seem to have a hardiness that comes with the pioneer spirit that remains in them.  In that regard there seems to be a kinship with those who have roots in Kansas.  New Zealanders have what they call Number 8 Wire Ingenuity, or Kiwi Ingenuity. 

Wikipedia says:  Number 8 wire is often used inventively and practically for applications other than for fencing.  It is also used as a term that epitomizes the “kiwi bloke” as someone who can turn their hand to anything.

This is enough for now.

This entry was posted in Life after end of Career, Life after loss of Spouse, Life after Retirement, New Zealand - Australia Trip and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Differences between NZ and the US

  1. Denis Smith says:

    Hi Peter, I especially liked your blog today on comparing NZ to the states. I have observed the same when traveling to Europe in regard to less obesity and less waste of resources as compared to the USA. Tell your friends there to stay aware from KFC, McDonald’s…and keep eating that good, wholesome food from the farm! Are you working hard on the farm to pay for your stay there? You better be! Let us know when you think there will be a good time to share a video call.
    Take care and stay safe,

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