Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why Kiwis are called Kiwis.

Its been another busy week in the Brunt household and the weather has gradually been showing signs of improvement. So much so that J has to wear a sun hat whenever she goes outside now at school. This seems to be the policy in all New Zealand schools from Labour Day onwards. It appears that NZ is renowned as being a country where you are likely to get sun burnt really quickly - so all the Mums I have met tell me. My two girls certainly caught the sun last weekend when I forgot to take sun cream and hats on our walk.

So I decided to do a little bit of research on the affects of the sun in NZ. (In other words I googled!). I couldn't find a great deal of info, but what I did find suggested that you have to be very careful of the sun in this country as you can get burnt remarkably quickly. NZ has very clean air with very little pollution to filter the suns rays. There is also apparently a small hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica which, at certain times of the year, can affect New Zealand. This can lead to heightened levels of UV radiation in the atmosphere and also means you have to take extra care in the sun. So as a result I have stocked up on sun cream and extra wide brimmed hats in the vain hope that eventually summer will arrive!

I have finally found the answer to a question I have always wanted to know. Why are New Zealanders known as Kiwis. I have been reading "The Listener" magazine this week and there was an interesting article by Sarah Barnett on the Kiwi (the bird) as it has been voted "Bird of the Year". In the article she states that "we became known as Kiwis in World War I, when New Zealand soldiers, cooling their heels in Wiltshire waiting for ships to bring them home, carved a 6000sq m chalk Kiwi on Beacon Hill".

All the time we lived in Wiltshire we never spotted a large Kiwi carved on the hillside so I assume it has now disappeared. I think thats a great shame - it would have added an international and exotic element to the scenery in the area.
I like the response that the author of the article gives to the question of whether New Zealanders like to be known as Kiwis. "Of course we like it - its one of the few birds in the world with two functioning ovaries. In other words, a national emblem with balls. Go Kiwi!"


  1. Quite interesting info you found! I, too, was taken by surprise about the sunhats and sunblock for kids. We only ever wore sunhats in the US while actually on the beach for long periods.

  2. Thanks bettyl - we only used to wear hats on the hottest days of the year in the UK. So very rarely!

  3. Oh yes, time for slip, slap and slop. Enjoyed your story about the Kiwi's. Still reading back copies of the Listener from our trip and missed this.

  4. I had never heard about clean air being a cause for NZ's strong sun. Just the hole in the ozone, which was caused by the Americans!

  5. Hello there, we stumbled upon your blog as we are currently studying New Zealand for school.

    May I ask, what do you think of New Zealand?
    How did does differ to the UK?

    Thank you :-)