Is it a bird? Is it a fruit? No! It's a New Zealander!
Do you know where New Zealand (NZ) is? It's a small island nation near the very bottom of the world. It has a large North Island, a long narrow South Island, and a small island called Stewart Island, way down South. There are lots of other small islands as well.
You need to know that NZ is an island nation, because that has been very significant in the development of the personality of the Kiwi (pronounced Kee Wee) character.
What is a Kiwi you might ask?
One answer is that it's a bird. A Kiwi is a large, brown, flightless bird, with a very long beak. It hides away in the bush, (forest) and only comes out at night. There are very few of them left now. I only know a few people who have ever seen a Kiwi, except in a zoo.
A Kiwi is also a fruit. A medium sized brown, fuzzy oval shaped fruit. Have you ever eaten one?
However, a Kiwi is also a New Zealander. There are lots of jokes made about why we are called Kiwi. Some people think it is because there are not many human Kiwi either. For whatever reason, Kiwi is what we call ourselves. I wonder if you know any Kiwis yourself.
New Zealand was first lived in by the Maori people. It was then settled by the English in the later part of the 19th Century. The people who settled it found it to be a very wild country, totally covered in bush. The pioneers who came to NZ had to work very hard to clear the land for farming, to build their homes and settlements. It was back-breaking work. There was no-one else to turn to. People would have to walk for one or two weeks through wild bush and over rough mountainous country to see another person. This made people very independent, and that spirit remains in Kiwis today.
Kiwis have a philosophy called the “Number 8 wire philosophy”. Number 8 wire is the wire that farmers use in NZ to build fences to keep sheep and cattle in paddocks (fields). It used to mean that everything can be fixed using Number 8 wire. Today it means that if you can't do something or fix something the way that it should be done, you find another way to do it.
What else defines a Kiwi?
Have you ever heard the term “Six degrees of separation”? It means that we are all close to being connected somehow.
Of course, things change. New Zealand is becoming more diverse. We have new immigrants coming all the time, who don't know about the history of NZ, and how we have helped each other in the past. We will have to teach them how to be good Kiwis.
If you ever come to New Zealand, I hope you will enjoy some Kiwi hospitality and friendship. Perhaps you will even see a Kiwi, and eat a juicy Kiwifruit!