There is a lovely piece of writing by Linley Boniface in the Dom Post.
It’s her account about what it’s like to suffer the winter cold in a “flimsy wooden shack” (aka house) in Wellington, New Zealand.
If you’re tempted to emigrate to New Zealand and been seduced by stories about its sub-tropical climate read on. If you already live in New Zealand you’ll know what she’s talking about and will perhaps manage a laugh through your chattering teeth:
“Which settler spread the myth that New Zealand was so balmy and sub-tropical that flimsy wooden shacks would suffice?”
“Without wanting this to sound like a suggested script for recruits to the sex chatline industry, I feel an urgent need to tell you what I am wearing.
There is a coat, a scarf, a pair of fingerless gloves and a hat of such hideousness that my small son almost fell down the stairs in fright when he first saw it. There are several tops, two sets of leggings and a pair of the kind of quilted sheepskin slippers rarely seen on anyone who still possesses all their own teeth.
It is, in short, an outfit offering the level of thermal protection an Antarctic scientist might require in order to spend an afternoon dissecting a Weddell seal on an exposed ice shelf. And yet, I am wearing this not on an ice shelf, but in my home office in Wellington. Although I can’t tell you exactly how cold it is in here, my gin and tonic is only a couple of degrees away from freezing over.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially in my house. Having once believed I would throw myself on a landmine to protect my children from injury, I now refuse to move away from the fireplace to allow them to defrost when they return home from school. This southern hemisphere Siberia has turned me into a warmth hog.
Walking into my unbelievably chilly house after nightfall last week, I was unable to respond to my dog’s friendly greeting because I was transfixed by a mental image of an illustration I’d once seen of a caveman taking refuge from the cold by sheltering among the still-warm entrails of a freshly killed buck deer.
My dog seemed to sense my train of thought and quickly slunk away. Luckily for her, she is a small dog and her chest cavity would be of use only as a footwarmer: if she’d been a great dane, it would have been a different story.
Ask any migrants to New Zealand what bewilders them most about this country and they will immediately mention our cold homes – as well as our insane driving, our inability to laugh at ourselves and our inexplicable fondness for cheap pies containing mince presumably garnered from recycled camel genitalia.
The cold homes, though, are most baffling, because most people consider hypothermia a symptom of being cold, rather than an expression of national identity.” Read the rest here Which idiot spread the myth?
It could be worse, she could live in Tapawera, Tasman District. Read “So cold it’s warmer outside” 14 July 2010
It’s been so cold at Judith and Kim Rowe’s home that wet clothes have been freezing in the bowl of their washing machine.
“I’ve just been moving the heater in here to try and defrost everything,” Mrs Rowe said, wearing four layers of wool and still battling the after-effects of the flu.
The family have been without much heating for more than two weeks and have been battling frozen pipes, days of permafrost on sunless pathways and temperatures plunging to minus six degrees Celsius as winter settles on their valley near Tapawera, Tasman District…
“We have 1½ rooms we live in, and the rest of the time we just run really quickly from room to room, and we’ve all had the flu. The cat’s gone from on the bed to into the bed. “In the middle of the day, you’re better to just get outside, where it’s warmer…” more here
The forecast for Wellington to 9am Monday 1 June : Min Temp 2, Max 8
10 thoughts on ““Most People Consider Hypothermia A Symptom Of Being Cold, Rather Than An Expression Of National Identity””
Some of the older homes that I’ve seen have gaps that you could shove a cat through. The newer homes do have an increased code for insulation and insulated double pane windows are required [but only in some areas]. There have been a number of times when it has been warmer outside than inside this winter. The lack of central heating and draft stop is the biggest obstacle to comfort [in these newer homes]. The older homes are hot in the summer and cold in the winter, difficult and expensive to heat, noisy, generally uncomfortable except for when the temperature [outside] is comfortable. The warmest that I’ve been this winter was standing outside in the sun and driving in my vehicle with the heat on.
The houses are not fine. Never saw so many corrugated metal crap rooves and DIY crap repair jobs (owners trying to save money, using rubbish and foraged items for supplies and having no knowledge of electrical systems or joinery, etc.). I know one girl who stupidly married a Kiwi (he went native once they moved back to NZ and became a dakhead+grower, ended up stranding the poor girl and her kids) and moved into a barn because it was the only thing they could afford. The kiwi’s relative (unqualified) rewired the kitchen and the light fixture would zap arcs of electricity out and smoke. She had children in the house and none of the Kiwi family cared – they just blamed the Chinese for having made the fixtures.
The houses are cold, mouldy nightmare shacks unless you are filthy rich.
The fact of that person’s plumber not being able to find the parts simply speaks for the lack of goods available here in New Zealand. Or the plumber’s desire to sell them a new system to feed his starving family, more like. Probably both!
Based on the immigrants I speak to, most of them, unless they bring over a lot of money, cannot afford to bring these homes up to First World standard. They expected them to be better to begin with – a well-hidden problem in New Zealand. The quality for price is appalling. Swiss prices for Albanian quality.
And then there is the biggest question of all – why move to a place far away from anywhere else and have to hemorrhage money in order to live there, when there is absolutely nothing special about New Zealand except for the fact that a few plants and animals were stranded on it long ago and not subjected to the forces of evolution? Because truly, that is the only thing special about New Zealand. It is not a good reason to move here. They have all the problems that more developed countries have, plus the problems of expensiveness, remoteness and a great climate for growing cannabis.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that New Zealand is some special place. The weather and scenery are decent enough, but these are no justification for taking the enormous trouble it requires to move and live here. The advertising creates a false mystique about the place.
Currently there is a middle-class meth epidemic that has been so well hidden that no mention of it is in the press as yet, but it’s something migrants should know about. Half the middle class is on meth. They think they aren’t because they just do a little at a time, over years. But it shows on the bones of the face and in their road rage and jitters. I have been told about this epidemic by half a dozen people in the last few weeks, including someone at a consulate in Auckland who moved away from Northland in part to get her teenager away from the incredible drug abuse levels there. The police cannot handle it anymore. Weed is so passe’ that no one pays any attention to it. Including the courts. Where I come from, meth is a hillbilly drug. Here, middle-class housewives are on it!
Food for thought.
The NZ “lifestyle” marketing is starting to become exposed as the bullsh** it is. Let’s hope more people have the information they need to migrate now, and don’t make the mistakes that some of the sad Migrant Tale people on this site did!
Mo, not everyone in New Zealand lives in an owner occupied home, they rent their living accommodation (eg. state and private sector rental homes, defence force etc) And of those who do own their own home not everyone can afford to bring it up to modern day standards of heating and insulation.
New Zealand isn’t exactly famed for its generous, world beating salaries, inexpensive building materials or low fuel costs.
It is however famous for its highly unaffordable housing – that doesn’t leave much left over cash for ‘luxuries’ like keeping warm and dry.
In today’s New Zealand Herald, 23 January 2012
Nice biased work there….conveniently leaving out the bit of the second article where the plumber couldnt get parts to hook up their radiator system.
Not that I disagree that plenty of NZ houses need more heating, but plenty of NZer’s refuse to do so (including plenty of immigrants). We returned from living overseas and bought a house – of course if there was only a fire so we knew we would have to put some central heating in – it’s not rocket science. People choose to do up houses and have a pretty house with no heating or insulation, as we found in our house. Funnily enough the houses are fine once you insulate and heat them.
I rent a house that the landlord just put insulation in [only ceiling and floor].
The house has no insulation in the walls, single glaze windows, and no weather stripping.
When the Southerlies blow, you’d be hard pressed to keep a candle lit, there is such a huge draft. We hunker down in one room, run to the kitchen, bathroom, and bed rooms. Bed warmers are turned on an hour in advance of going to sleep. If you want to sit in another room, other than the living room, the first best option is to climb into your bed with the bed warmer on.
I know that there are kiwis that walk around in shorts all year. That was the case back in the States, although more for fashion statement, here it is nearly a expression of national pride.
When it is cold, by what ever metric you chose to use, it is cold. Frost and ice are pretty good indicators.
I come from the cold North of England, which has been warm inside the homes in comparison to our Cardboard Box Type House that we live in here in New Zealsnd. Our Nz home is fully insullated to roof, walls and underfloor and its still f-*^%}+ freezing here 😦 I so want to go home but can,t afford to!
I just put it down to the culture of excessive physicality and excessive mollycoddling. Where on the one hand, you are told to “harden the f@ck up”, while on the other hand people on the benefit haven’t gone through a proper assessment about whether they actually qualified.
The shoes on the other foot, for both cases: the ones told to “harden the f@ck up” are usually the economically productive, while the ones on the benefit are given every opportunity to fail.
It’s tropical, Andrew. Look at the tree ferns. 🙂
And then, there’s the rats who move in.
Yes, and look at the NZ exotics which grow in profusion in the UK (at least in the south. I can’t speak for up north).
I grew Kaka Beak, Manuka, Chatham Islands Lillies, hebes and all manner of NZ natives in my garden there and I was amazed that they actually performed better than here in NZ. The garden centres are full of them. So I would say that there can’t be too much difference between the two climates and yet we freeze in the houses here………
Food for thought?
Absolutely spot on!!
I have NEVER been as cold in a house anywhere as since I returned to New Zealand.
It seems the country hasn’t progressed one bit in the last twenty years and no-one will listen to constructive criticism. It’s a case of “we still live in Godzone”
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