20 Mar 2017

My NZ:  'If you feel like a Kiwi then you are a Kiwi'

Lucy Zee
From My NZ, 10:22 am on 20 March 2017

As a Kiwi you're allowed to identify with both your ethnicity and your nationality in a modern, sexy hyphenated way, writes Lucy Zee* in RNZ's series My NZ.


Read more from the My NZ series:

'Kiwi stereotypes are going through a slow evolution' by Sean Scanlon

'A near perfect time and place to raise my family' by Katie Newton


I was born in Auckland, raised in the Bay Of Plenty and nearly died in Wellington (long story but I didn't look both ways before crossing the street). I am a New Zealander inside and out, front to back, heads to shoulders to knees to toes, but still sometimes I am asked by strangers, "Where are you from?" 

Over the years I have learned to not be offended by this question - people are just curious and some don't get the experience of having a diverse range of friends. So to that question I now answer, "I was born here, I am a Kiwi. My parents are Asian and they've been here for nearly 40 years so they are Kiwis too."

And in those two sentences lies the reason why I love New Zealand so much - no matter where you're from, however long you've lived here, if you want to you can call yourself a Kiwi. 

Whether you've been here for six months or 69 years, if you tell any decent person you're a Kiwi because you feel like a you are Kiwi, then you are a Kiwi. 

Lucy Zee

Lucy Zee says in New Zealand you can identify with both your ethnicity and your nationality. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The most beautiful part of this is you can still identify with both your ethnicity and your nationality in a modern, sexy hyphenated style. 

When people tell my 52-year-old mother that her "English is really good" she'll bore into your soul with her sharp black eyes and will clap back with, "Of course it is, I am a Cambodian-Kiwi and I can speak five languages, how many can you speak?" 

My best friend is Portuguese-Kiwi, my ex-boyfriend is a Jewish-Kiwi and my 8-year-old cousin keeps calling himself a Kiwi-Pokemon master. You can be Anything-Kiwi; it's the most welcoming and adaptable identity in the world. 

Lucy Zee and her crew of sexy hyphenated Kiwi friends.

Lucy Zee, middle, and her crew of sexy, hyphenated Kiwi friends. Photo: Supplied / Lucy Zee

Name a country that has the freedom we have, a country that was the first in the world to let women vote and one of the first to legalise gay marriage. A country where you can wear pyjamas at the supermarket on a hot summer's night and get a $2 sausage sizzle for a school fundraiser on any rainy Saturday morning. 

We have so much here and I appreciate it more after seeing with my own eyes what the rest of the world has to offer. Nowhere else comes close. 

Still, there are so many things we need to fix. No country is without its faults and one of the most incomprehensible of New Zealand's faults is that we still have child poverty. Every child, no matter where they're from, who their parents are have the right to clean clothes, a warm home, a free education and a full stomach at the very least.

I used to laugh at the line "the children are our future" being thrown around by teachers in school but it's plainly true. If we as a country are not investing in the lives of these people, what will become of New Zealand? 

I know we're just little and we're not as cool as Melbourne or as sexy as New York but we're still all good. Don't be a stink guy about this country - believe in New Zealand, travel and come back, keep it alive, ask for more, give back. Make New Zealand a desirable place to be and remember to tell everyone you're a Kiwi. 

* Lucy Zee is a New Zealand-born Kiwi Asian, working full time as a content producer in Auckland. She presents the What's Going On video series for The Wireless

Join us each day this week as another New Zealander shares how they see Aotearoa in 2017 - what they prize about the country, what concerns them and what they hope the country’s future will hold.