Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Everyone Knows Someone From Lord of the Rings, And Other New Zealand Fun Facts

Tomorrow is Waitangi Day - which, as you likely don't know, is a national public holiday in New Zealand to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (if you want to know more, attend any kind of school in NZ). So I thought, what better way to celebrate than tell you a few home truths about the country I've lived in for my entire life. Because you've always wanted to know more about New Zealand. I suppose.

1) Everyone knows someone who was in Lord of the Rings. 

If you watch Lord of the Rings (as most NZers are required to do and required to like), then yes, you're essentially watching a nine hour long tourism video for our vast green landscape and mountains. And then you add in the nine hours of The Hobbit and wow, that's 18 hours of tourism endorsement from Peter Jackson. Seriously, it will take most of you 18 hours to fly here, so you may as well just spend that time watching Middle Earth because all you can really do here is make like a Hobbit and go walking around on mountains and stuff. But anyway, one of the coolest things is that in those 18 hours, literally everyone in NZ can go "hey, I know someone who worked on this". I know several jockeys who were a part of the big horse riding scenes. And just recently the guy who was used as a height scaler (because he is over two metres tall) for scenes where Gandalf and the Hobbits are together just moved into Dannevirke, and now he lives next door to my sister. I have him a membership at Blockbuster, and he is besties with Peter Jackson. Plus some guy from my high school did effects work on The Hobbit. So yeah.

2) If you're going to do anything in the film industry, you are going to be Peter Jackson.

I get this a lot, because this is currently a scene out of my life:

"So what are you off to do?"
"I'm going to Canterbury to study Cinema and English."
"Cinema? How do you study cinema?"
"I want to be a filmmaker one day *nervously laughs because it sounds so stupid and ambitious and crazy when I say that and people don't understand*"
"Oh my gosh! Like Peter Jackson?!"

I've had this exact conversation at work, at school, sober driving people at 12am, on the streets of Dannevirke, at cafes...if I had a dollar for every time someone said "you're going to be the next Peter Jackson!" to me then maybe I'd be able to afford university. I kinda want to be the next Jane Campion instead, but that's all good.

3) We don't all personally know Lorde, nor are we all related to her.

No, just because Lorde is a year younger than me and because New Zealand is apparently so small that we all know each other (4 million is not that small), does not mean that I'm best friends with her. I mean, I wish I was, just so I could sap some of her perfect writing skill, but no, I do not know Lorde. It is kinda funny though, because "Royals" came out around this time last year, and I thought it was sung by a 30 year old. And we were all kind of debating whether we liked the song for a while. Then we found out she was 16 and we all cried because how was a 16 year old more successful than all of us? So yeah, even though we all secretly hate her because she's doing so much better than all of us, we love her because her card once declined for Subway that was $8 and she does weird dancing on stage but she's literally the best thing that happened to NZ.

4) To be successful in the entertainment industry you have to be a child prodigy.

Okay so this is really only true in three cases but these guys have Oscars (and/or nominations) and Grammys to prove that talent is really only bestowed on young New Zealanders. Anna Paquin won an Oscar for her performance in The Piano when she was 11 years old, becoming the second youngest ever person to win an Oscar. Keisha Castle-Hughes was nominated for her performance in Whale Rider at age 13, which made her the youngest actress to be nominated in the Best Actress category until Quevenzhane Wallis showed up. And yeah, Lorde just won a couple of Grammys when she was 17. I also won Lammys and stuff when I was 15. Just don't grow up in NZ, because once you hit age 10 and realise you haven't won an Oscar it doesn't do good for your psyche.

5) Lord of the Rings isn't the only notable in the film industry.

We sure like pretending it is, but there are some cool people out there who hail from these shaky isles. Russell Crowe was born in Wellington (our capital) and moved to Auckland later, but now Australia have claimed him (though he did throw in a shout out for us in his Oscar acceptance speech for Gladiator). Andrew Niccol, the guy who wrote and directed Gattaca (and The Host but we like to forget about that) and was nominated for an Oscar for The Truman Show comes from Paraparaumu, which is just up the road from Wellington. Richard Curtis, writer of all your favourite romantic comedies, was born in Wellington to Australian parents, and was once Head Boy (see, I'm part of a legacy). Andrew Adamson, who directed Shrek, was born in Auckland. Martin Campbell, who directed Casino Royale, was born in Hastings, which is just up the road from Dannevirke and where I'd often go to the horse races. Zoe Bell, who you could probably tell with that accent in Death Proof, was born in Waiheke Island, which is around Auckland. Melanie Lynskey, best known for Heavenly Creatures but also for being bloody Aunt Helen in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, was born in New Plymouth. Karl Urban, who was in Star Trek and the majorly underrated Dredd, was born in Wellington. And Bret McKenzie, who wrote my favourite shower song "Man or Muppet" for The Muppets is the son of Peter McKenzie (who was also in Lord of the Rings), who used to train racehorses and was friends with my father. So yeah, it is a small group, but we do have a bit more to offer than nice looking landscape.

6) Don't associate us with Australia, they're always trying to claim our shit.

Okay, while I'd love to claim stuff like Margot Robbie, Baz Luhrmann, Elizabeth Debicki, Cate Blanchett etc, we as New Zealanders play fair. However, Australia is always stealing out shit. For one thing, don't confuse our accents. Ours are softer and kind of nice to listen to if you like listening to irritating accents. For another thing, there was once this horse named "Phar Lap" back in the 1920s/30s - if you ever need to know anything on this horse, I know everything - who, while trained in Australia, was born in Timaru (down the road from Christchurch) so technically is from New Zealand. There's this dessert called the "Pavlova", named after ballerina Anna Pavlova, which was invented in New Zealand, but because it tastes decent, Australia wants to claim it to. But hey, at least we don't say "sex" when we're trying to say "six", Australians.

Sorry if you're Australian. I like Australia a great deal. And half of New Zealand moves to Australia every year so all good.

7) We have no native mammals, just native birds.

So here's something interesting if you're into biology (which apparently I am, because I got top marks on a biology exam question). When Gondwanaland broke up and we were left with the Zealandia continent, most of what is now New Zealand was underwater so mammals, you know, had a hard time living on that. Anyway, New Zealand surfaced and there was a lot of plant life (and I mean a lot, where I live now used to be known as the 90-mile bush), and then birds flew here, interbred, and we got lots of native birds that included Moa and Kiwi. Because there were no predators at the time, many birds filled a vast range of ecological niches, including the ground floor, which was handy for the Kiwi since they were flightless. When NZ became populated with humans (we were one of the last land masses to do so), those humans brought mustelids such as stoats, ferrets and possums, which killed the easily targeted Kiwi and have left them on the brink of extinction. If you ever do come to New Zealand, make sure you go to Mount Bruce, which is a couple hours from Wellington, because they have a white Kiwi named Manukura, and seeing it will actually change your life.

8) This isn't the best place to come if you're scared of earthquakes.

This picture was taken just after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake...terrifying stuff.
Because of the many faultlines that run through New Zealand, we are otherwise known as the "shaky isles". There's a faultline that pretty much runs parallel to where I live. I'd say that aside from snakes, earthquakes are my greatest fear on Earth. Which is great, because I'm moving to Christchurch in a week, which, as many of you know, was devastated by two earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 (from a faultline no one knew existed), and the aftershocks there still continue. But that's okay - when I first went there in early 2010, I fell in love with the place, and even though the earthquakes temporarily put me off, it is actually the best place in New Zealand, because it is the only place where things are changing and are different. If you go on Geonet, you can see that there's an earthquake somewhere every few hours, with the most recent big one being around 30kms from where I live and resulted in me turning into The Wolf of Wall Street in front of customers at work and swearing often. They're not fun things.

9) Just some pictures to make yo' all jealous that you don't live in Middle Earth/the middle of nowhere.

The Southern Alps. I can't wait to fly back and forth between home and Christchurch in the winter to see these babies covered in snow.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in Rotorua. It really stinks here (like all of Rotorua smells like rotten eggs) but some of thermal stuff is crazy.
Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island, where most people from my high school go for camps when they're Year 10. It is literally heaven on Earth.

10) New Zealand humour is actually the best.

More specifically, Jono and Ben at Ten humour is actually the best. It makes me sad that not everywhere in the world gets to see this program. Here's some of my favourite videos from it:

And here's a couple for all us movie people (like you are all legally required to watch these):

So yeah, that's NZ in a nutshell, both filmic and not. Anything else you could possibly need to know? Like what our Prime Minister John Key is really like from that ten seconds of meeting and photo time I once got from him? Or how there's enough sheep in New Zealand for every single person to have 12 sheep each? We're a treasure trove of fun facts!


  1. Really funny post! New Zealand is actually top on my list of countries to visit!

    1. Haha, come visit, and you'll see that all of this is true!

  2. I love New Zealand accents. I was actually disappointed when Anna Paquin seemingly lost hers. This is definitely on my wish list of places to visit too.

    1. IDK what happened to Anna Paquin's accent, it is quite strange really.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Ooh, nice post. I LOVE the Man and Woman movie trailers!

  5. Thanks for sharing the information. Keep the good work camera Flashlight apk wifi unlocker


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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