Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Nau mai, haere mai, New Zild

Airport signWe asked everyone, "Why New Zild?" but even the residents didn't know. A quick search on the Internet tells me that New Zild is the New Zealand variation of English, so was this a sign welcoming us to the language? Call us kids, but we were as excited about discovering the subtleties language as we were about everything else. The differences crept in slowly, innocently popping into our conversations. At first, Wendy didn't realize she was entertaining us with her causal comments. I think the first word that caught our ears was when Wendy innocently asked us if we wanted a lolly (candy). The next day we were offered brekkie (breakfast), asked if we had togs (bathing suit), and told to bring our sunnies (sunglasses) for our day trip to the beach.

Lunch at the Lily Pond Cafe on the day of arrivalWe knew that chips were french fries but learned that ketchup was called tomato sauce and sometimes they charged for it. Capsicum, we finally figured out towards the end of the trip, is red pepper; kumera, a delicious white sweet potato, and the piece de resistance, Pavlova is a heavenly dessert. We did not pack the chilly bin (cooler) for our day trips, but there was plenty of water on hand, (good on ya, Wendy). I didn't "pack a sad" (become moody) because ice was hard to come by, but I do like my cold drinks. I quickly assimilated to the ways of the country and enjoyed a cup of tea, morning, noon and night.

table at the Lilly Pad Yes, every night there was talk of tea when what I wanted was dinner (same thing, thankfully). Checking over the entrees on the menu I quickly learned that they were what we call appetizers. In both NZ and AU, I noticed that serviettes (napkins) were doled out sparingly. We never did have take-away (carry-out) - Wendy was such an amazing cook.

Now the Maori language was a different story. Try as I might, I never did master the pronunciation. I didn't need it for spoken conversation, but so many of the towns we visited had Maori names and I didn't want to sound like a wanker (loser).

the Blue & Green LakesSuch a beautiful country, a beautiful people and a beautiful language. When the British first came to New Zealand, the Maori had no written language, so the missionaries went about creating one for them. The Maori alphabet is very restricted, consisting of 15 letters: h, k, m, n, p, r, t, w, a, e, i, o, u, wh, ng. Towns like Waihi, Te Aroha, Paihia, Paeroa, and Rotorua took some effort to master, but KeriKeri, Kawakawa and Russell (formerly known as Kororareka) posed no problem. Nau mai, haere mai ~ Welcome.

Now that we've got the language barrier out of the way, I can get down to the details - but not until the next post.


jpquilter said...

How interesting to travel to a place with so much to discover. I would like to be open to traveling without feeling like I need to know all about the place before I get there and be open to learn.

Ev said...

Oh Lesley this post did make me laugh...

Susan said...

Me too, I so enjoyed looking at our country through your eyes and I am so PROUD of where I live!!