I have often considered myself “homeless”. It’s perhaps not the most PC description to have, but for most of my adult life it fitted a traveller like me nonetheless (until I got a mortgage that is).
I’ve felt homeless because I have been gone from New Zealand for so long I don’t call it my home anymore, rather, I call it the place where I grew up. My father’s home has long been foreign to me as he bought it after I said goodbye to my homeland many years before. Then last year’s earthquake took care of any connection I had made with that house, and now he is living somewhere new again.
But part of me will always be a Kiwi.
New Zealand is the country from where my heritage, my culture, and from where a large portion of my identity heralds. But sometimes when I go back, I have felt like a stranger. I recognise the way of life there, but no longer completely understand it.
I have conversations with strangers who think I am Australian and offer to buy me a VB. Sometimes I play along and put on a terrible Australian accent and start talking about bush tucker and the AFL – not that I know anything about either of these things.
And it’s not as if I feel Australian either. I feel neither Australian, New Zealander or any other country I have ever lived in. I think I am a hybrid. Well, I know my accent is anyway.
Depending on how many ciders I have imbibed, I can be equal parts Australian, New Zealand or from some obscure location south of London.
A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me to do a Kiwi accent. I couldn’t. I’d forgotten even though some of my vowel soundings still manage to sound rather thuck. I racked my brain trying to remember how to speak “Kiwi” and the best I could come up with was to start singing Run Rabbit Run in Maori. They were suitably impressed, however.
One thing I like doing when I go to New Zealand is to listen to the accents on the radio or TV. A couple of times I have caught myself laughing and had to hastily stop scared I might actually be becoming an Australian after all.
And that would be extremely difficult, because then I would have to start taking the puss out of myself. And it would all be too confusing. I guess one of the best things about having lived on both sides of the Tasman is that I recognise, all jokes aside, that Aussies and Kiwis aren’t that different after all.
We’ve usually both quite good at rugby, like taking the mickey out of ourselves and each other, and love beating England at cricket. Although, I do believe New Zealand may do a wee bit better when sports results are tabulated on a per head of population basis (postscript: such as the 2012 London Olympics for example).
You can take the girl out of New Zealand, but not the New Zealand out of the girl after all.