}

Thursday, January 14, 2016

5 Awesome Things About New Zealand


Above is my latest YouTube video, and it’s one I narrate for a change, something I plan on doing more of. This video took a long time to make because I had to find sources for everything I mentioned—of course I did.

So, since I went to all that trouble, here’s a version of my narration (this version may differ slightly), complete with relevant links. I included all the sources in the YouTube description, but I know some people would rather read them in context.

Here’s the narration:

I arrived in New Zealand from Chicago in 1995, and there were a lot of things to get used to—like driving on the other side of the road, for example. In future videos, I’ll show more of what that was like, but today I thought I’d share Five Awesome Things About New Zealand (…in my opinion).

5. Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world. That’s not particularly important, but it’s interesting.

4. In 2014, New Zealand was ranked as the world’s second least-corrupt nation, according to Transparency International. Denmark was least corrupt. Among other countries, Canada was ranked tenth, Australia 11th, and the USA and the UK were among four countries tied for 17th. North Korea and Somalia tied for most corrupt. [UPDATE: NZ dropped to fourth place in the 2015 rankings, released January 27]

3. No part of New Zealand is more than 130kms (around 80 miles) from the sea. Anyone who wants to can get to the ocean fairly easily. New Zealand also has 15-18,000kms of coastline, depending on how it’s measured. [Source: Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand]. That means New Zealand is ranked the 9th in the world for total coastline.

2. Women matter.

In 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. Later that year, Elizabeth Yates was elected Mayor of Onehunga, now part of Auckland, making her the first woman mayor of a town anywhere in the British Empire.

New Zealand is the only country in the world where all the highest positions have been held simultaneously by women: On 4 April 2001, Dame Silvia Cartwright was sworn in as Governor-General (the Queen’s representative; the Queen is head of state). Attending were Prime Minister Helen Clark, Leader of the Opposition Jenny Shipley, Speaker of the House of Representatives Margaret Wilson, and Chief Justice Sian Elias—all women. [SOURCE: “Dame Silvia Cartwright Sworn-in as Governor-General" New Zealand History]

At the same time, what was then the country’s largest corporation was headed by a female CEO, as was the largest government department [SOURCE: “The making of the Christine Rankin legend”, New Zealand Herald, 3 August 2001).

1. There are no land snakes in New Zealand. [SOURCE: “Reptiles”, Hamilton Zoo].

There also aren't any scorpions or venomous insects, either, and there’s only one native species of venomous spider, the rare kātipo, which is a threatened species, so hardly anyone has ever seen one, and over the past 100 years, there are no known fatalities from kātipo bites. A couple species of venomous Australian spiders have become established in New Zealand, for up to 100 years, but they aren’t considered a major threat. [SOURCE: “Story: Spiders and other arachnids”, Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand].

Sea snakes and kraits sometimes, though rarely, show up in New Zealand waters, and, while venomous, there are no known bites of humans [SOURCE: “Sea snakes and kraits”, Department of Conservation]. So, we’re pretty safe here.

And all of that is why I make this my number one awesome thing about New Zealand.

There are a lot more awesome things about New Zealand, and I’ll talk about them in future videos. If there’s anything you’d like to know about, let me know in the comments.

And there you have it: What I said, basically, in the video, some of which I haven’t really talked about on this blog, and especially not my podcast. There’s a place for everything, I guess.

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