I have travelled enough and collected enough souvenirs to think hard before I buy another piece of useless crap overseas.
Having said that, I bought two souvenirs on my recent trip to New Zealand, a Kiwiana fat quarter and a copy of New Zealand Quilter magazine.
I’d seen New Zealand Quilter in news agents here in Melbourne, but had never felt inspired to buy a copy. A favourable exchange rate and the idea of doing a review of the magazine persuaded me that this was the right time to hand over some cash. After all, I had a three hour plane trip ahead of me.
New Zealand Quilter came from a lovely but expensive bookshop called Books A Plenty on Grey St in Tauranga’s CBD. They had a great collection of New Zealand travel books, craft titles, magazines and children’s books. It was a lot more atmospheric and charming than your average book seller chain and I recommend it highly.
When I think of your typical (stereotypical) New Zealand male, I think of a bloke with a slightly weathered face and some muscle bulk born of doing actual work. He might be wearing a singlet or something made of wool, combined with either work pants and gumboots or short shorts and hiking boots. He might possibly wearing a knitted hat, especially if he’s gone for the shorts and boots combo. A man’s head can get cold, after all.
The stereotypical New Zealand male may be short on words but he can fix anything with a length of fencing wire. Watch this video to get a sense of what he’s like. The voice-over is by Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Chonchords fame.
Now check out this cover of New Zealand Quilter. Other than the beautiful scenery behind him and the checked shirt, is there anything New Zealandish about this model – and surely he can only be a model.
For heaven’s sake, he’s wearing plimsolls.
Now on to Kiwiana. Kiwiana is a group of patriotic New Zealand items that instil a sense of national pride. It includes a range of foods, emblems and designs that are instantly identifiable as from New Zealand, such as the koru scroll, chocolate fish, a lemonade called Lemon and Paeroa (L & P, originally made using mineral water pumped from a spring in the town of Paeroa) and of course anything related to the national bird emblem, the kiwi, or the national religion, the All Blacks rugby team.
The colours of Kiwiana are most commonly red, black and silver. Red turns up in Maori weaving, silver represents the the silver fern, and black the All Blacks. New Zealanders are lucky that this is a pleasing colour palette to wear and to work with. Much as I love living in Australia, few of us are flattered by green and gold, the national colours of this country.
My choice of Kiwiana was a red, white and black fat quarter featuring koru scrolls. Now all I need to do is decide what, exactly, I should use it for.