Laid-back. It’s a great adjective. Relaxed and easy-going is the Oxford dictionary definition. Perhaps Oxford could include this scene to support their definition:
Raeleen - walking down a small-town New Zealand street in her trackies (trackpants), young son padding barefoot by her side. She’s zipping into the dairy to grab a bottle of milk because her mate Kylie’s just texted to say she’ll be round for a cuppa in 5.
Yep, we’re a pretty casual bunch. Laid-back, relaxed, easy-going, casual – this is the Kiwi way of life!
Language and chat
Our language choice shows our relaxed nature. Expressions like, ‘how’s it going?, ‘no worries’, and ‘what are you up to?’, are used daily. For practicality, we sometimes shorten language, e.g. ‘what’s happening?’ becomes ‘what’s the haps?’. And, love it or hate it - we swear. A lot.
Along with the casual language is the casual chat. Many Kiwis think nothing of chatting to someone they don’t know. If a shop owner asks, ‘how are you?’, they mean it. And they’re expecting an answer! Walk down any suburban street and it’s possible to strike up a conversation with a fellow walker or someone out in their garden, usually starting with the weather.
It’s fair to say the average Kiwi wouldn’t feature on any fashion catwalk. Our standard getup for winter = hoodie, jeans, sneakers; summer = shorts, singlet, jandals. And that’s for females and males. We go for practicality. Walk to work? – wear sneakers, yes even with your good work clothes. Need comfy pants? - wear trackies. Too hot for shoes? – go barefoot.
Outdoor activities and farming are big in New Zealand, so sturdy, practical outdoor clothing is everywhere. It transitions into more urban environments too. Don’t be surprised to see hunting clothing worn at the supermarket – it might be a hunter grabbing some milk on the way home, or someone who just wants to be comfortable.
A practical attitude
You might’ve noticed a recurring theme here – practicality! Our practical approach to life gives us our relaxed, casual attitude. If we can find a more straightforward way to do something, we’ll do it. It mightn’t be the prettiest or the classiest, but if it makes life easier, we’re in.
That attitude also includes being easy-going, chatty, friendly and down to earth. New Zealand is not as class-structured as other countries, and so more egalitarian than most. That’s why those conversations you’ll get into are real.
So, feel free to join us! Relax, lay back, get casual. Try your chatting skills and throw in some of your newly-learned language. Put yourself in the Oxford dictionary scene. In fact, hey, isn’t that you chatting to the dairy owner and making Raeleen wait to buy her milk?
Good on ya!