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Hamish McKenzie - anthropologetic, London, Ontario

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Canada versus New Zealand: A Comparative Study

During my extensive stay (two weeks and counting) in my new homeland of Canada (yes, I am a citizen; and no, I don't know how I pulled that one off), I have noticed a few key points of difference between this New World colony and the colony of the Long White Cloud (which, since it's clearly newer than New World, must have to be considered a Pak 'n' Save colony).

Informal studies, which haven't really been conducted so can't really show anything, haven't really shown that the following things aren't really true.

People

New Zealanders, in general, are a friendly lot known for their hospitality, easy-going manner, and meat pies. There is the occasional red-neck racist, but these are mainly confined to isolated economic backwaters like Gore and the National Party. New Zealanders aren't at all like their more conservative neighbours, the Australians, except for the fact that they share a similar accent, culture, and proclivity for buggering sheep.

Canadians, in general, are a friendly lot know for their hospitality, easy-going manner, and maple syrup. There is the occasional red-neck racist, but these are mainly confined to the remote provinces of Alberta and the USA. Canadians aren't at all like their more conservative neighbours, the Americans, except for the fact that they share a similar accent, culture, and proclivity for cheeseburgers.

Language

New Zealanders tend to have a minimalist approach to language, preferring to use it only when absolutely necessary -- such as when discussing the likelihood of Anton Oliver missing the upcoming Lions series. The language spoken by the majority of New Zealanders can most closely be described as a kind of English, although linguists are divided as to whether it is merely a dialect or a completely different tongue. Research has indicated that most Kiwis prefer tongue. Strange words have infiltrated the New Zealand vocabulary over the years, including the confirmative "ow" (as in "It wasn't me, ow", or, "Ow is a difficult expression to spell, ow"), the borrowed Maori expression "tu meke!", which can be rougly translated as "too much!" (as in "That Nathan Rarere is tu meke!", or, "I think I've drunk tu meke again"), and the recently introduced "shiznuts" (as in "Georgina Te Heu Heu is the shiznuts"), which was mistakenly coined by a former Critic editor with a huge ego.

Canadians tend to use language liberally and loudly -- particularly when discussing details of their sex lives on cellphones while riding public transport. The Canadian accent, although varied, closely resembles the American, with one particular exception: the pronunciation of the joined-vowel sound "ou". Thus, words like "about" and "gout" become "aboat" and "goat," which can be rather confusing when it comes to discussing systemic diseases in goats aboard sea vessels. The expression "Eh" is universal in Canada and can be adapted to fit almost any sentence ("These fat-filled burgers sure are good, eh", or simply, "Fuckin' eh!").

Technology

Although it's widely held that New Zealand is a primitve nation lost somewhere deep in the South Pacific, few realise that the little-country-that-could has been making rapid advances in technological circles. Well, okay, so technically maybe they've just been going in circles rapidly. But for a country of just four million people and a mere handful of Starbuckses (hey, come on, at least I can pluralise "haiku" [scroll down]) New Zealand is surprisingly with the programme. For instance, the small town of Alexandra boasts its own set of traffic lights (albeit safely within the confines of the cycle park) and when it comes to the Compact Disc revolution, the country at least compares favourably to Bulgaria [scroll down].

Canada, on the other hand, with the advantage of being so close to the civilised United States of America, is one of the most technologically advanced states in the Third World. For instance, in London, Ontario (a town that compares to Christchurch in terms of both population and completely nonsensical city layout) it is common for student flats to be equipped with highspeed internet, a dishwasher, and a functioning washing machine. On a more practical level, however, Canada is not so advanced. The lids on margarine containers, for example, are unnecessarily difficult to remove, mainly due to the fact that the little rimmy bit on the lid doesn't stick out far enough over the edge of the container.

Music

Since the induction of the Labour government New Zealand has been experiencing a cultural renaissance. Because of the PACE scheme, artists no longer have to kick their heroin habits, which means the creative juices can still flow. Musicians in particular have found their voice again on the New Zealand scene. David Kilgour, Martin Phillips, and Annie Crummer have all experienced something of a revival, and Shihad have reverted to their original name after briefly entertaining a whim to identify themselves with a small rubber object that babies suck on. Meanwhile, everyone's hoping that NZ Idol winner Ben Lummis maintains his association with the Destiny Church so he'll never be in danger of getting taken seriously.

Canada, too, is enjoying a particularly rich vein of musical talent. Montrealians The Arcade Fire have cemented themselves as this year's Franz Ferdinand, although this was only confirmed this week when much-reviled Critic Music Editor James Dann rated their album Funeral an astonishing 9.5 out of 10. "A work of art that can provoke intense feelings," Dann opined. Hip-hop artist k-os continues to impress, despite being, you know, a bit politically aware; and there's apparently a great band called Broken Social Scene, but this writer hasn't got around to listening to them yet. Meanwhile, the world is still struggling to forgive Canada for Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, and Motutapu local Shania Twain. Iran reportedly still refuses to engage Canada in trade talks because of Alanis Morissette and the album Jagged Little Pill.

Politics

The ruling centre-left Labour party in New Zealand is doing its level best to implode in the face of a blistering campaign of unrelenting attack from the Leader of the Opposition. No-one can remember his name, but insiders suspect it is Winston Peters. Despite this, the Labour party clings to a lead in the polls -- but it could well be that to form the next government they'll require the support of proclaimed sex-symbol and worm-fiddler Peter Dunne whose United Future party has reportedly merged with the rambunctious Progressive Coalition to form something akin to Christian Heritage.

Canada's ruling centre-left Liberal party is doing its level best to implode in the face of a blistering campaign of unrelenting attack from just about everyone in Canada. Pretty much all of Canada is pissed off with the Liberals for swindling millions of dollars through some obscure practice called 'Adscam'. The Conservatives are demanding an early election, but the Liberals won't let them put a No Confidence vote to the floor -- they insist it be hung from the roof, right alongside the ineffective Leader of the Opposition, whose name nobody can remember.