Why New Zealand is not that great a place

Any Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare friends may be thinking that I’m writing this under the influence. I’m really not. I’ve had one beer. But I do have a story to tell. And it seems to show how New Zealanders are. And it’s really quite sad.

Tonight, we had Kaon and Aum playing down on the Village Green at university. This was arranged by the Waikato Students’ Union for it being Re-O Week (or Disorientation Week as they’re calling it this year. It cost nothing to get a ticket. They were only allowing 600 people in, I assume that’s for fire safety reasons.

There would have been 15-20 people there who were “Event Staff” – effectively the volunteers helping run things. Because they integrated it with the cafe down on the Village Green, there were two staff from there. There would have been maybe five to ten WSU staff. There would have been no more than 20 people turn up outside of that, about half of which weren’t students.

Okay, so it was wet. Okay, so it wasn’t marketed very well at all. But they had staff members go around the Halls of Residence during the meal time. There are about 500 people at the Halls here. I would say no more than five people (excluding myself, as I was going already) from the Halls went. It was sheltered. There was great music. And there was a disgraceful turn out.

After this, I went with someone you may have seen dropping comments on Politicalisation, Terry Gyde, to see if there was somewhere we could just have a quite drink. For me, I wanted to have a drink or two because today had been quite trying. So we drove into town (Terry wasn’t going to drink, so I’m not at all promoting driving drunk here) to see if anywhere was open. There was one bar open for the WSU Quiz. Other than that, we couldn’t see anywhere open. I saw maybe ten people walking along Victoria Street. We tried the Eastside Tavern. Closed. We tried the Hillcrest Tavern. Closed. We tried The Riv. Closed. Then we went back via The Cook. This happened to be open. By this point, it was about 10pm. The place was pretty full because they were finishing up their weekly pub quiz. As soon as that finished, we went from having maybe fifty people or more, to having four. There were four people in this bar. Within half an hour, myself and Terry were the only two people left, and we were pressured a bit to get out.

Sure, it’s a Monday night. But think of most places in the world. Think of New York. Even in the worst weather, there would not be an hour that goes by where you find nobody walking along the street there. Okay, sure, Hamilton isn’t exactly New Zealand’s attempt at New York. So let’s look at Auckland. You go into town on a Monday night in Auckland, you will have trouble finding a place to have a quiet drink. You will maybe see three or four people per hour walking the street. People might suggest that this is because it’s dangerous, but I would suggest it’s actually the other way around. The streets become dangerous because there’s nobody there. If you’re the only person on the street, and a group of not-so-nice people come along, you’re in trouble. But if you’re one in a hundred and a group of not-so-nice people come along, if they try something, they most likely won’t get away with it.

I blame these issues on two things. Firstly, New Zealanders do have a serious problem when it comes to drinking. They don’t go out to have a drink after work Monday to Thursday because if they do that, they will have a hangover at work in the morning. They don’t understand that going out to have a drink doesn’t necessarily mean not being able to walk afterward. You can go to a pub and have a couple beers. Maybe add a snack into there. And more importantly, have a conversation that you will remember in the morning. I’m not saying getting drunk is wrong or a bad thing necessarily. However, New Zealanders really seem unable to control themselves. If they could stop at one or two beers, we would see people in bars Monday to Thursday too.

Secondly, New Zealanders have a weird thing about being out at night. They try to avoid it. Like I said, look at New York. They are out at all hours, in all weather. But New Zealanders can’t seem to do that. We have a culture that you can only go out of an evening on certain nights. I wouldn’t be surprised if restaurants experience the same thing bars do, though that’s not something I can comment on, as I’m not really a restaurant goer.

I think the underlying thing here is that New Zealanders have a problem. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer of how to fix it. And unfortunately, all the people in this country who can see this problem get sick of it and leave. To me, New Zealand’s culture like this is one thing that will potentially make up my mind on whether I stay in New Zealand when I come back after graduating and going overseas for a bit, or if I will go back to another country I found along the way in my travels.


6 comments on “Why New Zealand is not that great a place

  1. Interesting that you make this point – I too think it’s very weird. The number of times I’m out on a Wednesday and want a drink or dinner at 9.30 or 10pm but can’t find somewhere that’s open is amazing.

    Sydney, Melbourne, London, LA, San Francisco – hell, even Miami are all open till at least 1am/2am all nights.

    I don’t see why I can’t have dinner after 9pm unless it’s at a takeaway place. >:[

    • Exactly. I personally can’t see any particular event that made New Zealanders like this. I do wish I could at least explain why, but I really can’t…

      Thanks for the comment, Lauren. Appreciate it 🙂

  2. I don’t know why New Zealanders do this.. but I totally agree with you. Even if you want a quick coffee and a muffin with friends at 7pm in town on a weekday night, the only places open are foodcourts in malls. And that is not usually the atmosphere you are after. I’ve been to four major cities in Germany and have travelled all over Israel. In both places cafes and bars open late in the afternoon just as people leave work. They stop on the way home and have a quite drink or coffee or tea with colleagues, enjoy themselves and go home. All at very affordable prices. In New Zealand however we seem to think we are a village, and an anti-social one too. People would rather eat silently in front of the tv than even speak to their families, let alone go out for an hour on a Monday night just to see what’s happening.

    It’s just boring.

    The only way to do that is to have a culture change. Which is probably impossible, or will demand 20-30 years.

  3. PS: cafes and bars will be open on weekdays when the bank will be open after 4pm. And that will happen only if some smart businessman realises when it is that people have free time. The current ideology is that it’s an 8 hour working day, 9-5, so everything will be open 9-5, regardless of consumer demand. Why not shift the 8 hour working day for retail and hospitality to, say, 11 to 7? 2011 is the first year that shopping malls in Hamilton are open till 6pm. And guess what. They are busy with customers who pop in after work finishes at 5 and buy something! Now to apply logic to other businesses and wollah.

    • I would hope you’re right. I would hope if places were open, people would go there. But I’m not too sure that they would. There’s too much of a weird stigma attached. And it really does annoy me…

      • Like I said. Should be fine in 20-30 years time. Basically, by the time you retire NZ would have caught up to the world as it was in 2011

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