The top 10 things we share with Australia

The man in black (photo courtesy of NZPA)

With a good All Blacks‘ win on the weekend, it’s worth reviewing the positives. Their victory over Australia in Sydney last month saw them retain the Bledisloe Cup. Additionally, a bet on the game in Sydney with our prime minister, saw the Aussie PM wearing the ‘All Black’ tie following Australia’s loss. Sportingly, he dressed in a dark suit that emphasised the silver fern on the tie.

The bet on the rugby illustrates the history between our countries. New Zealand was briefly governed from New South Wales, and the first two white women to settle in New Zealand were from Australia (both convicts).

We also have a history of humour. A somewhat apocryphal friend of mine, when was visiting Australia, was asked by a customs officer at Sydney airport if he had any criminal convictions.  ‘No!’ he replied. ‘Do you still need them to get in?’

Following the final tri-nations match against the Wallabies, I’ve put together a subjective list of the top 10 things we share with Australia.

Top 10 things we share with Australia

1. Australian Federation. New Zealand is included in the Australian constitution as one of its states. They asked us to become part of the Australian Federation, but our then premier, Richard Seddon, wouldn’t let God’s Own Country (as he called it) be swallowed up.

2. The Ditch (Tasman Sea). At various times they have crossed it in large numbers to settle here, and vice versa. Former prime minister Robert Muldoon quipped that New Zealanders moving to Australia raised the IQ of both countries. More recently this movement has prompted fears of a ‘brain drain’, though research by Treasury has suggested that it’s a ‘same drain‘.

3. Sheep. We have a lot of them, though we are getting less sheepish.  Australia’s unofficial anthem, ‘Waltzing Matilda’, is about a guy stealing a sheep.

4. Pavlova. Invented in New Zealand and claimed by Australia (or is it vice versa?)

5. Phar Lap. They have his skin and heart and we have his bones. (Outside Australasia that might be considered odd.)

6. The ‘underarm incident. (Reminds me of the ‘don’t mention the war‘ episode from Fawlty Towers)

7. The Bledisloe Cup. Gifted by former New Zealand governor general Lord Bledisloe.  He also gifted the Ahuwhenua trophy, and Waitangi treaty grounds to the nation.

8. The Southern Cross. Both countries have the Southern Cross on our respective national flags. Designed at around the same time, ours became official in 1902 while theirs became official in 1954. I can’t help thinking one of the flag designers was looking over the other’s shoulder when these flags were designed.

9. Possums. We got them from Australia and they ran rampant.  Ironically, indigenous Australians rediscovering the art of traditional possum fur cloaks have had to import our possum skins, as theirs are protected.

10. ANZAC Day. Past the joking and nose tweaking, our Aussie cousins share this day with us on 25 April.

2 comments have been added so far

  1. Comment made by Coln Gruntnub || September 22nd, 2009

    In the 1908 London Olympics we competed as part of the ‘Australasian’ team. And further to clause 3. those Aussies are always coming over here and stealing our blondes…

  2. Comment made by Matthew || September 23rd, 2009

    Not sure where I heard this, but the pavlova story I’ve been told was that it was first made by a Kiwi chef in Sydney. So it’s a shared icon but we’re the brains behind it - the Aussies just provided the venue.

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