Nov 12 2013

Confusing Australians and New Zealanders

New Zealanders Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, the duo known as The Flight of the Conchords, have a frank discussion about racism with a street fruit vendor, after the latter refuses to sell them fruit because he hates Australians.


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  1. 1
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Confusing Australians and New Zealanders? I thought this was going to be an article about alcohol-free beer.

  2. 2

    What say StevoR?

  3. 3
    Rob Grigjanis

    Oz and Kiwiland? Haka anyone confuse them?

    I would still refuse them fruit for another few years, because Peter Jackson.

  4. 4

    Oooooh Harsh from 1 and 3. If you don’t like LOTR, at least admit that Bad Taste has a certain shlock splattery element of irreverence.

  5. 5
    Rob Grigjanis

    I love shlock splattery, etc. Which is why I like Eagle vs Shark and Black Sheep. And the All Blacks!

    But I also love LOTR. Hey, I’ve made progress. After the first film, I was all “Nuke Wellington from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure”. Now, it’s just “no apples or bananas”.

  6. 6

    Never tell a New Zealander “oh you’re all just Australians”… they get very annoyed. Kind of like when you tell someone from Canada they’re just like an American (made that mistake once a long time ago… oops). South Africans get annoyed when you confuse them for Australians too.

    And for extra oddity… Australians also get annoyed when you mistake them to be from different parts of Australia. Never tell a South Australian they’re from Queensland, and never tell a Sydneysider you like Melbourne better (or vice versa).

  7. 7
    Matt G

    I can’t speak to the issue of how confusing New Zealanders are, but I’ve known many Australians and have found them most confusing.

  8. 8
    Pierce R. Butler

    If you wish to confuse Australians and/or New Zealanders, put them in a round room and invite them to help themselves to the beer “in the corner.”

  9. 9
    Brian E

    I too thought this would be some low-brow joke about how easy it is to confuse us antipodeans. I was in Texas in the middle of the year, and the way entrée is used there confused me. Here, it’s an entry or apertizing dish, there it means the main course. Bizarre. Can’t work it out, the name says it all, it’s not principal. ;)

    There’s a joke, a propos nada, along of the lines of when Kiwis hop across the puddle, usually to end up in Bondi, the IQ of both countries rises. :)

    Pierce R. Butler #7 that was the kind of joke I was expecting. Now where’s that corner again?

  10. 10

    Low brow jokes indeed. Australians are as fragmented and derisive of their own as Canadians, Americans and British are within their own countries, with their own terms of insult for each other.


  11. 11

    Ha! But please, if you insist on nuking anything, make it Auckland.Anyway why would we want American apples when we have Braeburns?

  12. 12


  13. 13

    @5 Aaroninmelbourne

    And for extra oddity… Australians also get annoyed when you mistake them to be from different parts of Australia. Never tell a South Australian they’re from Queensland, and never tell a Sydneysider you like Melbourne better (or vice versa).

    True that. I’m from S.A. (Adelaide boy) and for the love of Angus Young don’t call us Queenslanders – don’t lump us in with Ken fricking Ham (and Clive Palmer, Bob Katter, Polly Hanson, Sir Joh B-P etc etc etc!).

    Re: the Melbourne/Sydney rivalry, there’s a similar one between Adelaide and Melbourne. Funny thing is, only Adelaide ever talks about it. I’ve lived in Melbourne a decade and noone gives a rat’s arse what Adelaide does, or what events it gets or where it rates on the all-important “liveability” scale. I love my home town, but it sure does have a self-confidence problem.

    Interesting sidenote: my “accent”, such as it is, appears to confuse people. I’ve had non-SA residents think I was English (apparently pronouncing most of your consonants most of the time is “posh”) and a Kiwi in Napier (Nth Island) think I was a local. Once I spoke to a Yank at a bar who spent the first ten minutes of our chat assuming I was Canadian.

    Finally, protip: if you’re an Aussie visiting NZ and they ask where you’re from, say “West Island.” They will buy you beer.

  14. 14

    Bonus joke:

    Q: Why did Australians invent flip-flops (we call ‘em thongs)?

    A: Because it takes an IQ of 85 to tie a shoelace.

  15. 15
    Lassi Hippeläinen

    C’moon, anybody can get annoyed if mistaken to be Australian. A few years ago when I was island hopping in the South Pacific, everybody from Tahiti to Fiji asked if I was Australian. Apparently being a white male who doesn’t speak English with an American accent means automatically Oz. (OK, the guys in that Fiji bar were Kiwis…)

    But Australia can’t be all bad. It was the only place where I wasn’t called an Australian.

    Unfortunately I spent there only a couple of hours, when changing planes in Brisbane.

  16. 16
    Mano Singham

    That joke about the IQ of both regions rising has been done in other situations but it only works (as I see it) if it applied to a particular person who is thought to be of low intelligence. i.e., if you say that if Sarah Palin moves from Alaska to Texas, the IQ of both both states will rise, then you are implying that Palin’s IQ is low compared to the Alaska average but high compared to that of Texas, so you are making fun of her and Texas at the same time.

  17. 17
    Reginald Selkirk

    Ken Ham is from Australia.
    Ray Comfort is from New Zealand.
    Totally different.

  18. 18

    When in Melbourne my Bostonian brother couldn’t convince some locals that he is an American. They insisted that he must be Irish.

  19. 19

    I’ve had non-SA residents think I was English (apparently pronouncing most of your consonants most of the time is “posh”)

    Me too. Having to ring colleagues interstate and then get the standard query “When did you migrate here?” got a bit wearing when it wasn’t amusing.

    Funnily enough, the South Oz accent is apparently quite distinctive to the attuned ear. We have friends who are Brit immigrants and they seem to have retained their original accent – to our ears. Then they tell us that when they visit the folks back home and talk to people in cafes and pubs who don’t know them, people actually pick that they live in South Australia.

  20. 20

    As for the “posh”. I’m not so sure that it’s the consonants. A lot of it is because of the ah sound in grass, dance, path, photograph and all those words.

  21. 21

    I call Angus Young “Achterhoeker” because of


    in the same county where I was born.
    To honour the ex of Angus’ wife:

  22. 22

    Makes sense. Boston is a kind of cultural outpost of Ireland.

  23. 23

    This episode ends up confirming their stereotypes, in a hilarious way of course.

  24. 24
    Brian E

    I think the idea is any kiwi who moves to Oz is the lowest percentile of Kiwi, but still smart by Aussie standards. I think the joke gets its point across as it raises up kiwis, and is perjorative to oz and it’s denizens. I’m from Melbourne, and I think it’s a good line.

  25. 25
    Brian E

    Of course kiwis will remind of the Australian mans deep love of sheep, and an Aussie will remind a kiwi that there’s more head of sheep per capita in n.z…..

  26. 26

    Generally speaking, New Zealanders are confused by the fact that the world does not conform to our reality.

  27. 27

    Indeed. This dates back to my childhood (1970′s I think). Our Prime Minister at the time (Robert Muldoon, National), and otherwise terrible and destructive leader, was asked if he was concerned about the net migration flow from NZ to Oz. He quipped (possibly drunkenly) “It raises the IQ of both countries”.

  28. 28

    Well you just ruined my day. I had never bothered to find out anything about Comfort, having metaphorically scraped him off the sole of my shoe like a crushed banana. Now I find out he’s not only from the same country, but that he was born in the same City as me. Ugh.

  29. 29

    Yeah, I forgot to mention our plummy vowels. I do recall my parents being quite insistent that my brothers and I employ clear diction and correct pronunciation – not surprising given dad’s teaching career and mum’s history in musical theatre.

  30. 30

    Flight of the Conchords was my all-time favorite. Two seasons on TV is just way too short. I wish they came back.

    “You ever had a threesome?”
    – “Nearly”
    – “I had a twosome”

    “Wow. What was that like?”

  31. 31
    Mano Singham

    Yeah, they were good. I think they were concerned about quality and didn’t want to keep churning out mediocre stuff.

  32. 32
    Brian E

    I heard a story once that Muldoon was waiting on to be interviewed on the phone by some shock-jock in Sydney (could’ve been Melbourne/Canberra/etc) and he introduced the PM as “On the line we’ve got piggy Muldoon….” and Muldoon was reported to have said something like “No you bloody well don’t!” and hung up.
    Of course, details may have changed in the retelling….

  33. 33
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Is it my imagination or do Bret and Jemaine play the advice-spouting Aussie beach bums in the Fosters Lager ads currently showing in the UK?

    Anyway, as for the OP, I would have thought it impossible for any sighted person to confuse a Maori with an Australian Aboriginal. Or are we talking about the non-indigenous population?

  34. 34
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Sunderland (the natives of which are known as Mackems) and Newcastle (Geordies) are within spitting distance of each other on the North-East coast of England, but be careful never to accuse a Mackem of being a Geordie or vice-versa, not unless you have a high pain threshold and a very good dental plan.

  35. 35

    I miss this show. It’s what got me through my husband being deployed in 2011. A classic:


  36. 36

    Brian E – I have never heard that story, but it’s certainly believable. He had a very fractious relationship with the media which included a legendary confrontation on TV with a young journo Simon Walker.

    Link: http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/tonight—robert-muldoon-interview-1976

    To put this in context, even seasoned journalists at the time were terrified of Piggy.

    And yes, his nickname was Piggy. Nothing fond or friendly intended.

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