Tuesday, 31 October 2006

That Kiwi tongue

The other day, our kids were talking on the phone with their grandparents in Malaysia. After about five minutes on the phone with the young ones, I took over, and my parents said they had no idea what the two of them were saying. Mind you, they were speaking English and not Maori.

After about a year in New Zealand, the kids have picked up so much of the Kiwi accent and the odd Kiwi phrases which only a Kiwi could understand, let alone appreciate. Even as parents, we have to stop them mid way in a sentence and ask them what they meant or ask them to repeat that is a form understandable by whose ears have not been tuned to Kiwi. For this reason, Anil and Ashwini both tease us saying we are not Kiwis and will never be one!

Some of the ways certain words are pronounced make it very Kiwi. An example is the word seven. In English we pronounce it as "sev"-"en". But the Kiwis pronounce it as "see"-"ven". Then there is the word ten. In English it is pronounced as it is written, ten. In Kiwi, it sounds more like "tin".

Then there are the phrases. When someone says "thank you", in English we tend to respond with "you are welcome" or "not at all", but in Kiwi, you respond with "that's alright". In English you tend to wish someone "have a good day" or "have a good evening" but in Kiwi, you say "have a good one". I ask, one what?

When I was young, I was used to saying "my one" and "your one". And my parents often corrected me by saying the proper way to say it was "mine" and "yours". But in New Zealand, every one says, "my one" and "your one" and my kids say it's perfectly correct to use those words. We use to learn in school to say "expensive" when you mean something costs a lot of money. But here people say "dearer". I have yet to hear a Kiwi use the word "expensive".

Maori or locally known as Te Reo is widely spoken in New Zealand and is one of three New Zealand official languages. The others being English and the New Zealand Sign Language. However Maori is not a written language and hence there are no script. It uses Roman characters to write. As a result of this, the pronunciation of some of these words is rather "odd" to a native English speaker. In English the letters "ph" sounds like "f" but in Maori the letters "Wh" has the same effect. So Whangerei is pronounced as "Fangerei", Then there are other names of places like Whakatane and Whakapapa which I rather not translate here or this blog would turn out to be some X rated site.

Then there are some names with a "wh" but does not have the "f" sound. For someone new to New Zealand, that would be real tricky. So a suburb in Wellington called Whitby is not pronounced as "fitby", because we were told it originated from an English word! Is that confusing or what? If one assumed that everything else is pronounceable, then think again. Petone is another Wellington suburb pronounced as "pet"-"toe"-"nee" and not "pet"-"one". An Auckland suburb Onehunga is pronounced as "O"-"nee"-"hung"-"ah" and not "One"-"hung"-"ah".

There are some words in English that are considered impolite or outright rude when used in any context but here it is perfectly acceptable. You see advertisements and commercials using the words "bloody". And phrases like "bastards" are quite commonly used. I was quite confused when I heard this phrase, "... he was a bloody good bastard." Was that a compliment or the opposite? Apparently it was the former.

This is a serious “lost in translation” thingy!

Note: thingy is another common Kiwi word to denote “some thing”.

Monday, 30 October 2006


Tomorrow marks the last day where 5 cent coins are legal tender in New Zealand. From November 1, 2006, 5 cent coins will be taken out of circulation and the remaining coins with the exception of the "gold coins" will take a new form.

See the new set of coins below.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The notes changed in 1999 when polymer ones were introduced. These polymer currency notes apparently have one of the most advanced security features that nobody actually bothers to check its authenticity, unlike in some countries.

Most of the notes in circulation have the signature of the Central Bank or here it is called the Reserve Bank Governor's signature on them, Alan Bolard. This morning I was shown a $20 note that had the previous Governor's signature, Don Brash.

For those of you not familiar with New Zealand politics, Don Brash is currently the leader of the main opposition party in New Zealand. The note is still legal tender so nobody actually bothers. But how many countries in the world would have the leader of the Opposition guarantee the value of its currency? Interesing indeed!

Saturday, 28 October 2006

The day the ghouls came out to play

It was that time again when the ghosts and ghouls came out to play.

The neighbourhood where we have now moved into invited us to its annual Haloween party. Main aim being we get to know each other. Since New Zealand is positioned to see the first sunrise and all, I guess that must have been the reason to celebrate Haloween earlier. The actual day is October 31.

The kids were all eager to trick or treat and got dressed up. Anil being the blood sucking vampire who scared the hell out of himself when he saw his costume in the mirror and Ashwini, the mini Bewitched witch all geared up with the latest Nimbus 2006. All costumes exclusive to the "Two Dollar Shop", in case you want to stock up on these items after readiong this blog.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

There was no trick or treating as that is apparently an American thingy and there were no Americans in our neighbourhood. They weren't too dissapointed as there were other lollies on the table.

We adults had our gear but were too shy to put them on but when we arrived, we saw other adult warlocks, sorcerers, witches an ghouls all dressed up. There were an array of different models of broom sticks all stacked in a row. With all the witches congregating in one place, the spells must have had an effect as the home we went to was warm and cozy on the inside while the cold bone chilling rain was pouring on the outside.

The get together was quite good as we got to meet the other neighbours and the guy that built our home, Bob. Immediately I had this tune running in my head "Bob the builder....can we fix it...Bob the builder...yes we can". Thankfully, this Bob was quite a nice chap and did not cast a spell on me when I told him what was running in my head. We found out we had quite a few things in common. Building was not anywhere near the similarities. I demolish more than I can build.

We called it a day or rather a night when it was about time for the real vampires and withches to come out, and headed back home in the rain.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

Never too early to get into business

While it used to take a lot to start a business in the old days, it takes just a few clicks of the mouse to start one now. Online buying and selling has made businessman and businesswomen out of the average Kiwis. How is this relevant to this thread?

This morning, Anil, just used his pocket money savings to buy his first investment, a television off Trade Me (an online auction site) for $25. And at the same time our 5 year old daughter cleared her toy chest and placed a whole lot of her used toys on Trade Me for auction. Will she be able to rake up the $25 spent by her brother? Time will tell! As they say "one man's meat is another man's poison".

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, 16 October 2006

The modern day nomad

While I have been quiet the last two months, our lives were far from hushed. Since the last post, we sold our house in Tawa, packed and moved up north to Paraparaumu. Below is a picture of our new house.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Paraparaumu is a nice little suburb up north of Wellington. While it is part of the greater Wellington region, it is not part of Wellington city. So, some of my friends say we now live in the country. Which is in a way not entirely untrue. The place where we live used to be farmland just 2 years ago and now has been developed into residential living.

There are still lots of farmland scattered around where we live. it is kinda nice living in a sort of a small town with a rural feel to it. For starters it is far far away. The ride to the city, where I work, takes close to an hour on a good day by train. Can you imagine what it would be like on a bad day? I took a taxi to the airport the other day and it cost me $192 one way and the airfare to Auckland from Wellington is only $140! So go figure!

The journey to the city is quite picturesque travelling past lush farm land and the rugged coast. October being the lambing season, the journey is dotted with white little lambs running after its mother in the mornings. They are quite relaxing to see. Then there is the fantastic coast line the train crosses. It climbs up a steep hill and from the train window the South Island can be seen among the morning mist. And on the return journey, a postcard perfect sun set awaits!

I will one of these days post a picture of the sceneries along the way.

Is it a surprise that Vera calls me a "Modern day nomad"? We have moved 9 times in the last 11 years we have been married! Is that a record or is that a record?