“We are half-way through our law school DownUnder program, and preparing to leave Aotearoa, New Zealand (Land of the Long White Cloud). We have experienced a special place in this beautiful country. This is a land filled with mountains, beaches, fern trees and birds. It is filled with friendly people who won’t hesitate to offer a helping hand or go the extra mile.” – WMU-Cooley Professor Kimberly O’Leary
It is a language rich with Maori names (Kirrikirriroa, also known as Hamilton), Maori greetings (Kia ora, or hello), Maori words for plants (kauri, giant, tall trees that grow for hundreds of years) and animals (tuatara, a native NZ reptile which co-existed with dinosaurs and is still here in NZ.)
It is a land of cultural engagement, seen in the Powhiri, a traditional custom that defines important meetings by explaining a group’s ancestry and why they wish to meet, and in the Hongi, where foreheads and noses press to share the breath of life. Kiwi English offers its own delights. You can be keen to have a yarn with your mates about how bad the mozzies are while sharing some lovely lollies, biscuits, and confectionary.
You can have a glass of bubbles and a handful of nibbles before having a proper tea in the evening. You can choose whether to wear togs and jandles, track pants and trainers, or look brilliant in smart casual attire. If you get yourself sorted, you might head to the grocery and load up the trundler, making sure to buy some hokey-pokey, then take the lift to your flat.
If you’ve had a tough day, you might have a grizzle with a mate, but then realize everything is spot on, and end the day with “No worries!” Most of us are looking forward to Melbourne, but a piece of our hearts will remain in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Kimberly E. O’Leary is directing the law school’s foreign study program in New Zealand and Australia. She and her students are sharing their experiences throughout the Hilary 2016 semester.