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Call Yourself a Kiwi? Sure Do, Mate

27 October 2005

Call Yourself a Kiwi? Sure Do, Mate

If you think Sydney is just a western suburb of Auckland, here’s proof.

New Zealanders are more likely to call themselves a kiwi in Bondi or Bankstown than they are in New Lynn or Hornby. That’s one of the findings of a Bank of New Zealand survey* about how New Zealanders feel about the moniker “kiwi”.

The survey showed that 64% of respondents refer to themselves as kiwis in Sydney as opposed to 54% right here in Godzone. And in the “mother country”, more than half the respondents (53%) said they preferred to be known as kiwis, compared to 43% who preferred the term New Zealander.

Bank of New Zealand, which sponsors the project to save the kiwi – that’s the flightless bird, not the people – in the wild, conducted the nationwide telephone survey.

Overall, the survey finds New Zealanders love the term “kiwi” when it is used to describe their nationality. Forty-one percent of respondents in the survey of 750 people (aged 18 and over) said they thought the term “kiwi” summed up the “spirit of New Zealand and New Zealanders”. Another 40% of respondents said the believed the term kiwi meant “the people who live in New Zealand”, making 81% of us who recognise the term “kiwi” as summing up the country and its people.

The Bank’s national sponsorship manager, Richard Allen, says the results show that New Zealanders recognise the term “kiwi” as more than just the name of their national symbol.

“We see it as a byword for New Zealanders and the things that we value in New Zealand – egalitarianism, a fair go for everyone, and inclusiveness. It’s not a slang term. It describes who we are and what we stand for,” says Mr Allen.

“That’s one of the reasons why we feel so strongly about saving the kiwi. If the bird disappears
from the wild, a little piece of our collective kiwi spirit will go with it.”

Professor Charles Crothers, Professor of Sociology at Auckland University of Technology, says the term “kiwi” is a badge of identity that we use both at home and increasingly when we travel, regardless of whether the countries we’re visiting are familiar with the term or not.

“I’m not surprised by the results for Australia. It’s probably something to do with the love-hate relationship we have with our nearest neighbours, and the fact that there are so many “kiwis” living across the ditch. The results for the United Kingdom reflect our shared heritage and the long tradition of young New Zealanders flocking to England for their OE.

“But the willingness of one-in-three New Zealanders to use “kiwi” in places like Tokyo and New York, where the term has much less local meaning is the big surprise. It obviously has tremendous significance for us as a nation.”

In the Big Apple, 36% of those surveyed said that they would call themselves kiwi compared to 35% in Tokyo.

“The small flightless bird does a great job of marketing New Zealand all over the world.”

Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust, which is run jointly with the Department of Conservation, has two major initiatives to increase kiwi numbers:

- Operation Nest Egg, which aims to increase the survival rate of kiwi chicks

- Funding initiatives to increase the areas where the kiwi can live without the threat of its major predators, which are stoats, ferrets, dogs, and cats

The Department of Conservation warns that at the current rate of depletion, the kiwi, which numbers about 70,000 birds nationwide, could disappear in the wild in some regions in 15 years. However, the Department is having major success with increasing bird numbers in some specific locations.

To support the Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust, the public can donate using their EFTPOS card at any Bank of New Zealand ATM machine or call 0900 SAVE KIWI (72835) to make an automatic $10 donation, or donate online at www.kiwirecovery.org.nz or at any Bank of New Zealand branch.

ENDS

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