Friday, January 13, 2006

How Kiwi Are You?

The second most popular question I get asked is "Are you (insert random nationality)?" Complete strangers have accused me of being, in no particular order, American, French, Italian, Maori, Australian, Irish, Brit, Portuegese, Inuit, "South American", Hispanic and sometimes, not often, Chinese. It's true. I could come from anywhere, but I was born a Kiwi.

The truth of my ethnicity beyond being Kiwi is a bit of a mystery. Geneology was never a strong point in my family. In fact it was quite the opposite. I gather my great-great-grandfather on Dad's side was Leon Baptiste de Cleene. Leon's birth name was something Dutch and unprounceable and he changed it on emigrating to NZ. A clean start. Dad's Mum seemed very Scottish. The only thing I know of my mother's side of the family is that Colin Meads is my great uncle. So as far as filling in ethnicity forms goes, thank Dagg for the Kiwi column because I truthfully couldn't answer anything else.

Perhaps a DNA test could clear it up. Extract the three or four protein segments that proves beyond a doubt that I am 1/64th Mongoloid or 7/256th Navajo. If I'm really lucky I might find some ancestor was once raped by Rangi so I can claim my share of the tobacco, umbrellas, pencils and sealing wax that Wakefield bought Wellington with.

The early travels of colonial settlers refer to the Maori as New Zealanders. For taxonomic purposes, a New Zealander was brown. The term pakeha was used by the Maori to describe a settler who went native. A pakeha typically married the chief's daughter, fought alongside them and settled into the tribe vibe. Common usage has since turned these definitions on their heads. Tze Ming Mok has an interesting take on this, mooting that the term Kiwi is used interchangeably with pakeha and white, in much the same way as "news" is used interchangeably with "press release" and "advertorial."

Can't blame him really. The Nats' twisted use of my Kiwi/Iwi pun into a segregational tool didn't help (What was the Hikoi about? Fucking laughs?). For me, a Kiwi is someone who is born here, not just some honky. A loose interpretation could even apply to people who have spent over half their life here (the halflife rule). But that's just my opinion. If others perceive the Kiwi label as a white ass cracker facade, then bully for them.

Perhaps we should apply a Kiwi citizenship test:

  1. Are you Australian? Y/N (If Y selected, please stop here)
  2. Are you sure? Y/N
  3. The All Blacks are the best rugby team in the world T/F
  4. What is a JAFA?
  5. Please explain the following terms: kai, tangi, whanau
  6. How many times has Rachel Hunter been married?
  7. What is a tinnie house?
  8. Who was Bruno Lawrence?
  9. Perform a haka
  10. What is L&P?
  11. Which country invented the pavlova?
  12. Te Rauparaha is the Maori Queen T/F
  13. Perform the Time Warp dance
  14. Complete the following phrases: Mongrel ___, Black ____, Satan's _____.
  15. How many times a day do you say "sorry"?
  16. The Bone People is a porn movie T/F
  17. What colours are featured on the Canterbury Rugby Union jersey?
  18. Recite a song from one of the following: Exponents, Che Fu, Dave Dobbyn, Shihad, Scribe
  19. What is the Te Ware Whare?
  20. What was the name of the dog from Footrot Flats?
There's a couple of tricky ones in there, but I think a score of 75 percent is a reasonable score. Any suggestions on a Kiwi test?