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So which one of you Kiwis wants to marry me so I can escape from the States and live somewhere civilized instead? I don't care if you're a woman or a man, but we're going to have to fake the consummation if you're male.

I yearn to live in a town whose name begins with a 'W' and have Christmas in June. Hit me up if you're willing!

There are a few to choose from.

Whanganui will be the biggest - it's a town on a river in the very pastoral Manawatu region. It's quite pretty, with its Victorian architecture and its tree-lined streets. Houses are cheap by New Zealand's standards, which are not cheap at all by global standards.

Whakatane is sunny, hilly, coastal and wears its Maori culture and heritage on its sleeve. It's the quiet achiever of the Bay of Plenty region, while the powerhouse port of Tauranga and tourist mecca of Rotorua squabble over which is more important.

Waiuku is a slice of small-town life just outside of Auckland. Depending on your view, it has either the best or worst of both worlds.

Waiheke is situated on our 3rd-most-populated and 1st most-pretentious island. It used to be a hive of rudderless hippies, but is now mainly populated by millionaires. C'est la vie.

Wanaka is a gorgeous town in central Otago full of lakes and snowy mountains. It was perfectly nice before the tourists discovered it, so it is likely to be nice again in the near future.

Waitara is a cute but generic town near New Plymouth in Taranaki. You can see a beautiful mountain that looks like Mount Fuji but doesn't have vending machines at the top; this doesn't fit in with the local Maori's notion of environmentalism and stewardship.

Waihi is in the Waikato, so that's two-for-one. It is a giant hole. No, wait, it *has* a giant hole. There's an open-cast mine there which is a pretty fun tourist attraction and looks bizarre on google earth.

I'm going to Whitianga on holiday in September, so I'll let you know.

Warkworth is to Auckland what upstate New York is to New York City. I think.

Wairoa and Waipukarau are both in Hawke's Bay and both dying the horrible yet unremarkable death of small towns. Nice river, though.

Westport is in the Westland district of the West Coast region, which is pretty imaginative. It has a gorgeous Art Deco council building, and significant gang problems.

Whangamata is one of those places where the population quadruples in the summer, but otherwise isn't large enough to sustain its own high school... or most shops.

Woodend is in Canterbury. I know about it only through Google.

Waimate has Wallabies, but few Australians, which is an asset.

Winton is the third-largest town in Southland, but is still smaller than most Auckland secondary schools. Its major claim to fame is being the hometown of the first woman hanged in New Zealand.

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Funny thing is, my wife and I were just discussing how, if we did not have kids and all the associated roots, we would pack up and beg New Zealand to take us in!

Here's hopin' that, in a few months, we can just unplug the USA and then plug it back in to see if that helps!

Count of the venerable Wordsmith to entertain and astound even here in the forums. I'm oddly drawn to Westport. My therapist can help me work through that, I suppose

I've got distant family in NZ, 3rd cousins. Could they sponsor me and my family in or something?

dzd's picture

Waimate sounds nice!

Thank you for the travelogue, SW.

I don't know what it is about New Zedland and place names that begin with 'W,' but they sure do seem to have a great abundance of them. Must be a Maori thing, I reckon. I don't know much about Te Reo.

I don't know if this is actually true or not, but years ago I read somewhere that here in the States, we have a lot of place names derived from Native lingo that translate to 'Finger' or "Your Finger" or similar. . . this, allegedly due to it not being customary among at least some tribes back then to point with the index finger, the way Europeans did. Thus, extending your index finger to point at a mountain or river or somesuch and asking "What do you call that?" would get a perhaps slightly puzzled response of "That's your finger."

It is indeed a Te Reo thing. There are only 15 letters in the alphabet, and more than one of them would case a placename to start with W...

Also, most Maori placenames are named after geographic features, as the land is more than mere geography in Te Ao Maori. Mountains, rivers and the like form a key part of the identity of the individual and the community, and the Whanganui river even has legal personhood - although we haven't had the chance to discover the judicial quirks of that particular decision.

'Wai' (water) is a particular offender. That prefix is everywhere, as you might imagine.

They're not all named after geography, though. There is a particularly novel example in the small town of Urenui, which means 'big penis'. This town's name was given not due to any topographical resemblance, but rather as a metaphor for 'courage' - specifically, the courage of Mythical chief Manaia who paddled across an ocean to invade Aotearoa after his wife's brother laid a curse on him (in-laws, amirite?) with a substantially smaller army. That's right; he displayed such big dick energy that they named a town after it.

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@Stephen Wordsmith very educational and almost full marks for having only one slap at Australians - would have been questioning your nationality if you hadn't managed at least one. i though you might give the Wh pronunciation a bit of an airing for our overseas contingent! I must say i find maori history and culture very interesting and have been fortunate to spend a lot of time on maraes talking with maori elders.

@Stephen Wordsmith

Thanks, your input here is fascinating and enlightening!

The Urenui thing doesn't seem all that alien, when you think about it. . . it appears to be analogous to the way English speakers talk about balls. I try to mix it up and use 'ovaries' instead when I'm trying to give kudos to a lady-type person for her courage and moxie, but "you've got big brass ovaries" doesn't seem to be catching on as yet.

From the name, Waimate sounds like the kind of place Australians would naturally gravitate towards!

great thread, and I love that 'point with the finger' story!

@Calum Carlyle Unfortunately for them, it's pronounced 'Why mar teh'. 'Mate' is the Maori word for 'death' - so 'Waimate' is 'Dead (stagnant) water'.

This wouldn't be the first time the Maori word for 'death' looking like the British/Australasian English word for 'friend' caused problems. When Coke installed vending machines in New Zealand with the cheerful greeting 'Kia Ora, Mate', people nationwide were wondering why a tempting display of sugary drinks was headlined with 'hello, death'.

And @coolparadiso raises an important point. You may wish to practice taking low-stakes potshots at Australians in the interest of acclimatising. @Tim Fatchen and I have been doing this long enough to have a Chekhov's play with of material; but it's all fun and games.

Until someone bowls underarm.

@Stephen Wordsmith or a guy who falls out of a line out , gets a penalty to cheat the welsh out of a famous win in Cardiff! Ironically the same player who was bowled to underarm. One was legal! Yeah but very poor form i agree and we only like it coz it annoys you guys so much in the spirit of the wind up, most of us didn't even like the Chappells. I think you Fatchen and I could write an awesome musical Chechov style about a mixed Kiwi Aussie family linked by a marriage.

You could Also add Wainuiomata to your W’s. Or nappy valley as it was called when i was here! Has a magnificent Marae Out there!

dzd's picture

@motisbeard Yeah.....and may want to brush up on your cricket's apparently a beloved game, not just a bug who is a bad joke/song critic Smile

Really enjoyed the finger story too........I live in a place with a lot of American Indian town names, always been a pastime making up what that meant in the native language......smelly armpit of the universe, etc. Smile

I'm already a leg up on most Septics when it comes to the cultcha dan anda; 99.99% of Americans cannot distinguish at all between Aussies and Kiwis. I can hear it in the accent.

The very first time I met anyone from that part of the world, I was maybe ten or eleven years old, standing in line at a supermarket in Los Angeles. The guy waiting in line ahead of me turned to me and said what sounded like "D'YEW LAHK THE RUNNING STANCE, MITE?"

I was completely, utterly baffled. I got that he was asking me if I liked something, but WTF was "the running stance?" I pictured someone standing motionless, with arms and legs held in a posture like someone sprinting would use.

"Huh?" was all I could manage.

"THE RUNNING STANCE," he repeated. "D'yew lahk them?"

Them? Now I was even more confused.

"The RUNNING STANCE, the RUNNING STANCE. You know!" With that, he pointed at my chest. I looked down (instead of saying "THAT'S YOUR FINGER!") and realized that he was pointing at the Rolling Stones logo on my t-shirt.

Fast-forward to the year 2002. I had been living in China for a while, and I met an Aussie roadtrain driver who told me he was opening a bar in town (Chengdu, Sichuan), and asked me to come play my guitar and sing on his opening night. Of course I would!

On the appointed evening, I walked into the venue, and my roadtrain-driver-turned-publican friend was behind the bar serving the crowd. The room was long and narrow, so everyone else in the place was sitting at long tables directly between the two of us. He spotted me coming through the door, and in a booming voice shouted over the heads of the crowd: "HEY, OTIS, YA FUCKIN' CUNT!"

I stopped dead in my tracks. Did he really just call me a CUNT?!? Aside from the very most heinous racial slurs, 'cunt' is the filthiest, most offensive word in American English.

Paralyzed with shock, I nonetheless noticed that he was SMILING at me in a friendly way, and in the blink of an eye was proffering a free beer at me invitingly.

Like a young monk in a zen tale suddenly comprehending a koan, I was enlightened.

We have an interesting relationship with that word, certainly. For some of us, it's every bit as offensive as it is for your fellow count-rymen. For others, the mere mention of it brings about a certain joy and even solidarity. You could achieve the same effect with less offense with 'bugger'. Arguably our best-loved advertisement of all time consists of hapless farmers saying that word over and over again. I can't say we've reached quite that level of comfortability with the c-word.

Australia has, though, and this is wonderful:

I'm aware that this post wasn't as jam-packed with fun-filled learning opportunities as the others, but I also didn't want you to feel like the guy in the movies who inadvertently says something terribly offensive and the whole room goes silent and glares at him.

I would also like to volunteer myself for marriage on the same way. I'll live wherever. I cook wash clothes the dishes and make music. I would not fake consumption if you are male, if you are female I can close my eyes and pretend

I don't dare return to New Zealand until someone can convince me that they really HAVE got rid of all the hobbits and orcs. Who can blame the High Elves for sailing off into the sunset? They knew Australia was over that way.

For the last bloody time, yes, there is a city of 1.5 million called Orcland, but no, that's not what it means.

I was told Lord of the Rings was only filmed there as they found all the extras already suitably attired and not requiring make up. Well thats what i heard? Dont let my kiwi best man read this, coz hes a timaru southerner built like a highlander and never lost a beer drinking contest!

Whoa. Timaru is Crusaders country. Don't tell them they're built like Highlanders.

Elves sailing west. Regrettably, Avalon turned out to be a suburb of Sydney. Bad luck. (Life's a beach)

Say no Kiwis. @Motisbeard will turn up claiming to love you just as you are, and then try to turn you into Florida.

Yup scary @Stephen Wordsmith Yup a crusader fan but built like Wallaces bodyguard, great to be next to on a big night out! Me i have a soft spot for the hurricanes, spent a lot of time at the cake tin.

@coolparadiso the Highlanders all the way!! I am a real southern NZer though.
@Stephen Wordsmith I’m glad you snuck Winton into your list of places beginning with W.