Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


A Lighthearted Look At Our National Nickname

Kea Versus Kiwi - A Lighthearted Look At Our National Nickname

by Kara-Leah Grant

There is a golden opportunity lurking on the horizon for each and every New Zealander proud to call Aotearoa home. This valuable opportunity will only arise when the decision finally comes to change our bland and archaic flag from its current and completely mistakable design – is it Australia? Is it New Zealand? No, it’s the United Kingdom, taking one last gasp of colonial breath…

The changing of our flag represents the re-branding opportunity of a lifetime. While other folk debate what our national anthem will be, and whether or not the fern really deserves to be our national plant, I’ve decided to investigate the connotations associated with our nickname, and kick start the campaign to shed the moniker Kiwi, instead plugging the imminently more suitable nickname of Kea.

After all, are New Zealanders easy prey? Or are they hardy survivors? Are we dowdy and round? Or colourful and sleek? Are we habitual creatures? Or we blessed with an unusual ability to learn and create new solutions to whatever problems we encounter?

As with the change of flag, the subject of our nickname change will ignite hours of debate. It was Australian soldiers who first bestowed us with the name, Kiwi, during World War I.

They must have been having a joke at our expense, but we never noticed, the name stuck, and now, thanks to those damn Aussies, everywhere in the world we go, people associate us with an odd looking, ground dwelling, nocturnal bird.

Which is not to say the Kiwi isn’t a very special creature. It is. In fact, the Kiwi is quite amazing in it’s own right. Incredibly territorial, Kiwi mate for life, and traverse huge areas of forest during the night, making their way easily through the blackness with their whiskers and acute sense of smell.

There is no reason for them not to retain their place of honour as our national bird as it’s a place that has quite rightly belonged to them ever since Tane, the god of the Forest, created them.

The Kiwi is the oldest of all Tane’s bird family, and as our elder sibling, is very protective of us. But that doesn’t mean we NZers should be named after them.

The Kea however, is a very different bird. The world’s only mountain parrot, Kea’s propensity to explore and manipulate objects within their environment has enabled them to survive massive environmental change, and thrive in their harsh mountain home.

Unlike most birds, they aren’t picky eaters, and will adapt their eating habits to whatever happens to be handy. Kea are highly individualistic creatures that love to play and they have evolved to a level of intelligence that rivals that of the most advanced monkeys.

Quite simply, the Kea is the brainiac of the bird world.

Short, easy to pronounce, catchy and recognizable, the word Kea has all the same attributes as the word Kiwi. There is the small problem of ninety years of tradition to break, but if we can change our flag, then we can change our nickname.

The ideal time to do it is all at once. Advertising companies call it ‘re-branding', and it takes millions and millions of dollars and copious amounts of advertising.

But, all this money will have to be spent on the flag anyway; it won’t cost much more to hitch the concept of Kea alongside it. All we need is a groundswell of support between now and then to convince our politicians that the average Joe & Jane on the street no longer wants the world to call them Kiwis, but instead, Keas.

So, Keas, unite, stand up and be counted - start the campaign today. Use the word Kea whenever and however you can. Send out bulk emails to everyone you know and tell them Kiwis are now called Keas.

Write letters to the editor. Print up stickers. Get your friends and family involved too. No more a dowdy, dull, round, dim creature that struggles to survive in the face of environmental change, but instead a curious, playful, intelligent, resourceful and cheeky creature that thrives on challenge and environmental change. Put like that, how can NZers resist? Long live the Kea.


Kara-Leah Grant
karaleahg @

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news