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Mapping the OE phenomenon

Media Release

Otago University Press

Mapping the OE phenomenon

Jude Wilson’s new book Flying Kiwis: A history of the OE is the first detailed account of a uniquely Kiwi phenomenon: the extended overseas working holiday.

Drawing on the oral accounts of several hundred travellers, Wilson sheds light on the cultural development of the OE – from its emergence in the mid-1970s through to a peak in the late 1980s.

As the cost of long-haul flights came down and the rest of the world became more accessible, increasing numbers of young New Zealanders took off overseas.

‘In the beginning it was about travel and testing yourself in the bigger world,’ says author Jude Wilson. ‘In the 80s the OE morphed to include not only travel but also finding a proper job.’

Going on ‘the big OE’ became part of a young New Zealander’s rite of passage; New Zealand employers began to recognise it as an important milestone in a young person’s career.

During the 1980s London was the city of choice. Ex-pat newspapers and magazines provided a forum for travellers and a hub for networking. Areas in London, like Earls Court, became known as Kiwi zones – a place where new arrivals would hang out together.

Flying Kiwis is heavily illustrated with a colourful selection of archival material – from photographs to travel documents, signage, cartoons and travel mementos – giving a visual account of the popular culture that was integral to the OE’s evolution.

Thoroughly researched, laced with humour and entertaining anecdote, Flying Kiwis reveals how the OE became part of the Kiwi psyche. Never before has this crucial expression of Kiwi identity been so fully explored and recorded.

Flying Kiwis: A history of the OE

By Jude Wilson

ISBN: 978-1-877578-26-7, $45


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