We all have a bit to learn

There are several things that New Zealanders have as part of their life that really could enhance life in Canada if we adopted them. And the same can be said the other way. Here is what I’ve found so far.

Canada can learn from New Zealand:

Integrated taxes into prices – This makes shopping much more transparent and easier. No longer having to do mental math in order to figure out if those $18 of groceries will be covered by the $20 bill in your pocket, or if you should get out the plastic to pay (made even tougher since some things will be taxed, some won’t). Everything is seamless having the taxes included on shelf prices and I for one will miss this perk once back in Canada (or in other countries that aren’t up to speed on things with taxes).

Abolishment of 1 cent piece, at least – The penny is long since past it’s usefulness. Penny candies are long gone, and the actual creation of the penny costs more than what it is worth. It is time to retire the little faux copper coin and move to at least a 5 cent system. I’d support going all the way like New Zealand has and getting rid of the 5 cent piece as well. Round to the nearest 10 cents. It makes the amount of change in your pocket far less, AND means any coins you have actually are worth toting around. The amount of useless pennies I had after 4 years in Sarnia was astounding, and I very rarely used cash (everything was on my Visa).

Roundabouts – For all but the largest intersections, roundabouts are FAR superior to traffic lights or 4 way stops in keeping traffic flowing quickly and safely. The first few times around a roundabout, sure, it can be a bit intimidating if there is traffic. But a few times in, you learn the traffic flow, pace and watch for the signals. You signal whether you are staying in the roundabout (keep right blinker on), or exiting the roundabout at the next exit (left blinker). It’s all a very good and simple system for quieter towns and cities. I’d say places up to 50,000 in Canada could make good use of them. Yes, I’m just making up numbers off the top of my head.

Litter Control – Canada isn’t bad compared to many countries. But I don’t think I have been to a place so CLEAN as New Zealand. Even the large cities are devoid of litter and street garbage (<snide comment about Toronto & garbage on streets in years past>). It’s truly remarkable and only helps showcase the amazing nature here in New Zealand. I’m guessing Singapore might surpass NZ (with Singapore’s incredibly strict laws on keeping things clean), but right now I’m impressed.

Local Programming – For a tiny country of 4 Million people, their local programming far surpasses the general dreck that CBC & CTV manage to foist upon us Canadians (news and sports are exempt – I’m talking Comedy/Drama/etc shows). There are several Kiwi-made shows that are really quite watchable and have good production values. And it’s not like NZ doesn’t have a larger brother to pull most of their general programming – Australia produces a ton of shows, and then a lot of US shows are imported to boot.

New Zealand can learn from Canada:

Mixing valves for hot and cold water at faucets – This drives me NUTS. It must be a holdover from the British, because the dual faucet system is downright stupid. New Zealand is a country that prides itself on being green, while also having limited water resources. Here’s a thought – make faucets have mixing allowing a proper temperature with a single stream of water rather than having to have two streams running, filling your hand with cold water, then filling with some hot water to get enjoyable warm water for washing your face, hands, etc. It’s archaic and should be left in the past.

Home Insulation – Europe has an excuse for poor insulation in their houses – many of them are several hundred years old. New Zealand doesn’t have that excuse, their homes are often around the same age as Canadian homes. Yet, they figure since snow doesn’t occur everywhere, they don’t need things like insulation or more than single-ply glass. So when temperatures get to 3-4C outside, it gets downright FRIGID in a house here. Many houses still have the old wood burning fireplaces to help heat a house, and while quaint, really don’t heat much past 1-2 rooms. Bedrooms are often chilly ventures at night. Kiwis are starting to figure this one out. There are several advertisements on TV regarding proper insulation of your home making a much more enjoyable home experience, and cutting heating costs as well.

Abundant free wireless internet connections – This caught me unprepared. I came to New Zealand expecting it to me much alike to…well pretty much any country I’ve visited, including Costa Rica and Ecuador, in that free wireless connections are plentiful. Cafes, hostels and public areas would have free wifi, with no limit to time or usage. Here in New Zealand, incredibly few places might have FREE wifi, and even then it would be limited in bandwidth, time or both. Cafes to me are a big offender – if I’m paying $5+ for a drink, more than 30 minutes wifi with 25MB of bandwidth should be expected. Incredibly annoying.

FREE KETCHUP EVERYWHERE – Seriously. Many places in NZ charge for ketchup, or if they don’t, are very stingy in the tiny amounts given. It makes me, as someone who sometimes eats food simply to consume ketchup with something on the side, sad.

Language – The Kiwi English REALLY butchers the English language. It’s incredibly lazy and filled with shortcuts. There are quite a few examples, but one that sticks out is their common sayings of ‘___________ As’, where the blank is something such as ‘Sweet’ or ‘Cold’, in other words, an adjective. The saying is meant as a comparative – so where as most would say statements that something is ‘sweet as honey’, Kiwis simply say ‘Sweet As’. They leave off the noun part of the comparison. All the time. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

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