For the last week and a half, I’ve been working on a big proposal for a faculty study trip to New Zealand. In addressing the gazillion matters required by the feds for these kinds of proposals (for instance: the international airport code for Rarotonga, Cook Islands, is RAR), I’ve learned at least these seven interesting things about New Zealand:
1. The country’s native Maori people – and many white New Zealanders – use the name “Aotearoa” (“land of the long white cloud”) for the country.
4. These Pacific islands are hollowed-out countries, with the majority of their populations living not on the home islands, but in New Zealand. For instance, the Cook Islands have an on-island population of about 20,000, while 58,000 people who identify themselves as Cook Islanders live in New Zealand.
5. The country’s rugby team, the All Blacks, has been competing internationally since at least 1905, two years before the country became an “independent dominion” of Great Britain and 42 years before full independence. If an American national baseball team had been competing for 101% as long as the country had existed, the team would have started playing in 1771.
6. Riffing on the “All Blacks” name, the New Zealand national basketball team is the “Tall Blacks.”
7. The All Blacks’ pregame “haka” dance is the very definition of intimidating, and has a fascinating history, too: