Ten Kiwi Things Your Filipino Worker Should Know

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You’ll now experience the New Zealand culture!

Wow! Now, your flight is within what? Days? Weeks? Or tomorrow? Good to hear that you’re now going to New Zealand! Not everyone is given a chance to be there, work, and enjoy at the same time!

Of course, it’s always exciting, but we both know that it will be different from where we are and how we’re raised here in the Philippines. So here are ten Kiwi things that you need to know before finally landing there!

1. They Drive-In the Left Side of the Road

Unlike in the Philippines, Kiwis drive on the left side of the road. This can be challenging for you since its the opposite. You might use to see on your right side with the steering wheel on the left. But don’t worry, you can always practice and master it! Here are some reminders that you also need to remember:

  • Since New Zealand has diverse terrain, it means that roads are narrow, hilly and windy
  • There are plenty of sharp curves
  • Outside the cities, most roads are single lane
  • You can encounter gravel roads so always go slow and be alert!

2. Don’t confuse Kiwis with Ozzie’s

With New Zealand being close to Australia, they are commonly mixed up! So beware of the difference between the two and don’t try asking a Kiwi friend if he or she is an Aussie. Kiwis won’t get mad anyway, but they would appreciate it if you’ll distinguish who they are. That even if they are small, they are a distinct country with beautiful mountain ranges with fantastic biodiversity!

And if you’ll just see, they have many differences. One great example is through their accent. Australians tend to pronounce their vowels with emphasis on the sound [ee] while Kiwis are more prominent with the [u]. In saying Fish and Chips, Aussies would sound more of ‘Feesh and Cheeps’ while the Kiwis with ‘Fush and Chups.’

3. Respect the Māori Culture

Māori is the indigenous people of New Zealand Aotearoa, and this local culture is a big part of New Zealand’s identity and soul. That’s why you also need to understand the basics. Here are the things that you need to keep in mind as part of respecting the Māori culture:

Tapu & Noa. Tapu is interpreted as “sacred,” “not ordinary” or “special” while Noa is the opposite which means “ordinary” or the everyday things. The belief goes that the two must be kept separated. That’s why you should avoid passing food over a person’s head or putting your bag or hats on the table or any surface where you will also put the food.

The Hongi. Don’t be surprised if someone welcomes you by rubbing you with a nose to nose! That’s Hongi, a Māori way of expressing you are welcome!

Take your shoes when you enter a Māori meeting house or somebody’s home.

Look at the person you’re talking to as a sign of respect and not be rude.

If your food is not blessed by one of your hosts, then don’t eat yet!

While here are some Maori vocabulary that you may encounter also:
Whakapaingia ēnei kai
(Bless our food)

Hei oranga mo ō mātou tinana
(As well being for our body)

Whāngaia ō mātou wairua
(Feed our spirit)

Ki te taro o te ora
(With the food of wellness)

Ko Ihu Karaiti tō mātou kaiwhakaora
(For Jesus Christ our Healer)


4. Pack Your All-Weather Dress

I guess this will be a big adjustment! Since we only have sunny and rainy weather, then you can now have the four seasons! For us Filipinos, this is one of the most exciting; experiencing the summer, autumn, winter, and spring! I know you want to try skiing, the snow, and the much hotter sun so don’t forget to pack your all-weather clothes! I know you won’t forget the basics so here’s you shouldn’t forget:

  • A nice sweater and scarf to keep you warm
  • Maybe thermal socks and underwear
  • Boots
  • A rain and windproof jacket

And in case you forget, then you can try shopping out there!

5. Beware of the sun!

Maybe at first, you won’t notice, but take a feel of New Zealand’s summer, and you’ll realize that it’s hotter than anywhere in the Mediterranean. That’s because there’s less ozone there to block the UV rays. There’s also less pollution in the southern hemisphere and Earth’s orbit taking it closer to the sun in southern summer than during the northern.

So don’t forget to wear your sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats when in direct summer light (usually 11 AM-4 PM).

6. Be in awe with New Zealand’s animals!

Being in one of the most remote locations, the outlying sub-Antarctic islands are amongst the wildest and least disturbed places on Earth!

Over 20% of New Zealand are national parks, forests, and reserves. In fact, you can experience the three UNESCO World Heritage (Natural) Areas: the Tongariro National Park, Te Wahipounamu and the sub-Antarctic islands.

Here, you’ll see the unique fauna from birds (Kiwis, Wekas, Kākāpōs), reptiles/amphibians (Tuataras, Geckos, Skinks), marine mammals (Dolphins, True Seals, Sea Lions), to native land mammals (bats, stoats, wallabies).

Some may sound the first time, right?

7. In terms of communication, they can be private at times.

Kiwis may be known with an optimistic attitude, but remember that they are still the king and queen of the past! Kiwis still tend to be a bit of private, so don’t dare to ask so many personal questions, especially when you just met.

Talking about the good weather, the place, rugby is okay, however, asking how much their house or car is, how many kids they have, are they’re single, married or whatever may be a bit tactless.

8. Who loves footwear?

Well I guess, you’d be a bit surprised though you can also see kids in the Philippines with no shoes during playtime. In NZ, they are serious about being barefoot. Kiwis don’t like much footwear.

During summer, you’ll see a bunch of people walking and wandering barefoot whether it’s in the supermarket, in the city, restaurants or even bars! It’s simply not a requirement!

9. Dinner is the main meal!

Unlike in our country where breakfast is usually the main meal of the day, dinner is the one in New Zealand.

Breakfast usually consists of cereal, some toast, and a coffee, tea, or a glass of juice or milk. Lunch would also be simple and can consist of a sandwich or hot pies, salad, or fruit. During weekends, Kiwis can switch to scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms and hash browns for breakfast and roast beef, potatoes, and pumpkins for lunch!

And of course, dinner is the main meal usually done at around 6 PM. Kiwis dinner usually contains meat and potatoes and some vegetables. Fish and chips are also one of the favorites!

As you can see, they love a bunch of mixed food plants which is still on the influence of the Maori culture!

With that, don’t be surprised if they won’t serve you a bowl of rice in the first place!

10. Tipping is not their thing! Stand and pay your bills!

Are you used to giving tips in the Philippines when you’re in a restaurant, or in taxis? If yes, then in New Zealand, forget about it! Kiwis are not used in giving tips. They do believe that customers should not feel pressured because they paid a decent amount for a meal provided.

People just often tip if they really like the waitress or waiter who serves them.

And, by the way, if you’re in a restaurant, don’t wait until evening because the bill won’t come to your table. In the Philippines, we usually wait for the bill. But in NZ, you need to stand and pay whatever your bill is! No matter how many people you’ r paying at the same time!

Ready to go to work and experience the New Zealand culture at the same time?
With that, I bet you’re confidence has somehow increased and now ready for your trip! Remember, even if you are working there, you still need to understand and enjoy the country, the culture, and the people. You work, learn, and enjoy at the same time!

Good luck and we hope you have a great stay in New Zealand!