Archive | April 2013

Australian Customs

I was curious to see if there were any differences in Australian social customs and I happened upon the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship. They have a section entitled “Living in Australia” that very clearly outlines the Australian Social Customs for someone who is thinking about moving to Australia.

Obviously, these guidelines are meant for someone who is not used to Western culture and civilization. To someone in America, some of the things on the website seem obvious and sort of comical. I decided to share some of them here.

How do we great people?

“When meeting someone for the first time, it is usual to shake the person’s right hand with your right hand.”

“Many Australians look at the eyes of the people they are talking with… Do not stare at the person for a long time.”

What are the clothing customs?

australia bikini“Many Australians live close to the beach and the sea. On hot days, they may wear little clothing on the beach and surrounds. This does not mean that people who dress to go to the beach or swimming have low moral standards. It means that this is what we accept on and near beaches.”

What is considered polite behaviour?

“We also say, ‘Excuse me’ or ‘pardon me’ if we burp or belch in public or a person’s home.”

“Most Australians blow their noses into a handkercheifs or tissues, not onto the footpath. This is also true for spitting.”


The website also explains some Australian slang as well as “How do I respond to an invitation?”

Personally, I think this site is comical because I am used to the culture and social customs of western society. It is interesting to realize that someone moving to Australia from and Asian or Polynesian country may not have the same social customs so this site would be extremely helpful to them.

I looked up to see if the US had a similar site, and I was surprised to find that there are a lot of sites that explain American social customs. I had never thought that it would be necessary to learn social customs from the internet. I had always thought when traveling I would learn from experience. This is a great way to learn, however, because it is less likely that you will offend someone if you study before visiting a different culture.


All quotes are from the following site:


— Katie Mixer



Satire or Defamation?

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig

A New Zealand political satire website known as “The Civilian” received some heat from Conservative Party leader Colin Craig last week.  The website published a story regarding some flooding that occurred in the city of Nelson, Waikato, stating that the flood in the Bay of Plenty was a result of the Marriage Amendment Bill being passed.  This was an obvious reference to Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson’s now famous speech where he describes seeing a “big gay rainbow” and claims it’s a sign in favor of the amendment which permits the marriage of same-sex couples.

The article featured in “The Civilian” then goes on to quote Colin Craig, “Williamson likes to talk about big gay rainbows, but it would help if he understood what the rainbow actually means.  After Noah’s flood, God painted a giant rainbow across the sky, which was a message that he would never again flood the world, unless we made him very angry.  And we have.”

The only problem is, Craig never said that.  The quote was entirely satirical and manufactured by “The Civilian.”  This resulted in Craig’s lawyer sending the editor of the satire website a letter claiming the quote to be defamatory and inaccurate.  In response, a note was published above the story which read, “We accept, upon further review, that Mr. Craig never made the statement attributed to him.  We retract the statement and apologize to Mr. Craig for any harm we have caused to his impeccable reputation [smiley face].”

Later, Craig stated that he was pleased with the response of the editor and that he would take no further legal action.

Ben Uffindell, editor of “The Civilian,” claims that any story published on the website is intended to be purely satirical and he never wanted anyone to receive the impression that Mr. Craig actually made such a comment.  He’s also stated that the story’s generated so much publicity for the website, that their servers are struggling to keep up with the huge influx of web traffic it’s been receiving.

What do you think, was Craig in the right to take up legal action against “The Civilian,” or was he taking the whole thing too seriously?

-Lou Iatarola


Best Dressed Possum

The schools in New Zealand have turned to something quirky to raise money.

Students at the Uruti School participated in a fundraiser where they dressed up dead possums in doll clothing. The event raised $8000 and the Principal of the school, Pauline Sutton, said it was one of the best turn outs they had ever had. The money raised was two times as much as they originally expected.

The article does not go into detail about how the money was actually raised. Maybe the possum dolls were sold? However the money was raised, the SPCA called the event “disappointing”. They said the fundraiser completely went against their mission of teaching children respect and empathy for animals. Dressing up dead possums doesn’t seem to to be very respectful of animals, but Pauline Sutton thinks differently. “Animals aren’t the only species that are dressed up after they die. We do it to humans, too.”

My concern with that statement is that humans are dressed in life as well as death. Animals go around naked all their life, so why put clothes on them after they die unless to make a mockery of it?

This event shows just how unique the culture is in rural parts of New Zealand. It is unlike the majority of the things you see in the United States. The Uruti School has only 14 students and their “Pig Hunt” fundraiser (as this is called) happens annually. Hunting is a large part of culture in that area, so the residents do not bat an eye at the Best Dressed Possum competition.

Do you agree with this event? Is it malicious or done in a good sense of fun?

Here are some pictures of the possums from Taranaki Daily News Online:

possum3 possum4 possum2 possum5 possumpic1


New Zealand May Get a “One-Stop-Shop” Media Regulator

Law Commission president Sir Grant Hammond

        A new proposal in New Zealand may result in a single, independent regulator to watch over every aspect of the country’s media – online news, print and broadcasting.  After much speculation was made by the Law Commission, president Grant Hammond stated that the best move in today’s digital age is to create a “one-stop-shop” media regulator which would be completely independent of the government and industry.  This new watchdog would hear complaints and issue sanctions on all forms of news from current affairs down to opinions.  Hammond also stated that this proposal has not been made in light of any kind of crisis with the media.  Instead, it’s been prompted by the many gaps and imbalances between the many different forms of media that bring the public news and current affairs.  For instance, broadcast news was subject to strict statutory standards and heavy sanctions while online content and content accessed on-demand was subject to far less standards if any at all.

        Although this new regulator would not have the power to actually fine companies, it would the power to force publishers to remove material from a website, correct errors, publish apologies, allow a person a right of reply and ensure that all reporting was done in an ethical manner.  Former TVNZ head of news Bill Ralston stated that, “Shaming is a far worse penalty [than a fine] because you lose faith and trust of your readers and listeners.”

-Lou Iatarola


Human Rights Watch

A group based out of New York has decided to take up a vendetta against the military and since then it has gone global. The Human Rights Watch says that it is creating an international coalition for a global treaty that would stand up against the creation of ‘killer robots.’ They are referencing the military drones that are currently being used and developed further if ever need in another war. The group warns against a ‘robotic arms race’ saying that if a country were to come out with a ‘Terminator-style’ robot it would only be a matter of time until someone else did. The London Division of this group has started the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots. The group says that a human should always be making he decisions when it comes to warfare weather it is on the battlefield or from a base mile away. The campaign is also joined by other groups that are against things like landmines, cluster munitions and the building of lasers. According to the article fully autonomous robots that make their own decisions could be possible within 20-30 years. To launch the campaign against killer robots the Human Rights Watch wheeled out a home-made robot which sat outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

“It’s Not Just Cricket”

What baseball is to the US, cricket is the Australia. This article discusses the fate of the Australian cricket squad as they prepare for The Ashes tournament in England this summer. Chris Rogers was recently added after his solo Test in January of 2008. Test cricket can be related to professional baseball but instead of traveling to different states these players are international. Test cricket is the longest sport of cricket. The matches are played between two teams that have acquired ‘test status’ which is determined by the International Cricket Council over a period of five days. These matches are considered the most complete examination of the teams playing ability and endurance. As of right now there are only ten national teams that have Test status; the most recent team was Bangladesh in 2000. The playing time for these matches are five days and for every one day there are three two-hour sessions with a forty minute break for lunch and another twenty for tea. Like baseball cricket plays in innings and during each inning one-team bats but instead of pitching it is called ‘bowling.’ This July will start off the oldest rivalry between Australia and England. The first Test match between the two was in 1882 and has been an ongoing tradition since. “Quest for the Urn” will start July 10th with a series of five Test matches in England against the defending champs. After the series ends the victor will be presented with an urn that is said to contain the ashes of cricket equipment. Image

New Zealand’s Media: Television, Radio, Internet, and Newspapers


Television in New Zealand differs from the television we have here in America. There are plenty of different providers that we can access television compared to a select few they have in New Zealand. SKYTV was a monopoly for the private television besides the public broadcasts for nearly ten years until recent launch of Freeview in 2007. Along with Fairfax New Zealand, they dominate the distribution of media.


New Zealand only has 27 networks for radio. They may be a small country, but with the conglomerates that come from Australia, there is no room for more advancement. They have a struggle with the power of the signals as well due to indigenous parts of the country and high concentration of the population in only a few cities.


Blogging has become a big part of the New Zealand internet front. New Zealand political groups and politicians are big on blogging as they promote campaigns and discuss policies with Parliament. They are also ones to allow active comments on blog posts unlike other political blogs overseas. Some controversy has gone with blogging, such as in 2006 when a famed blogger was convicted of sedition. They have seen controversy with socialist groups and breaching classified information to the public. In recent years, most newspapers have been getting their breaking stories from bloggers rather than their own reporters. New Zealand hopes to stretch its footprint to nearly 70% of the country with high speed internet by 2019.


Newspaper has been on a steady declining source of media all over the world and New Zealand is no different. With the recent explosion of breaking news information, television, radio, and the internet, newspaper just cannot keep up with the overload of information. Newspapers are printed in both English and the native Maori, sometimes totally separated or with subtitles for the native culture of New Zealand. There are four major newspapers that are distributed throughout different parts of the island. Fairfax New Zealand controls nearly 50% of all distribution of newspapers.Image