Brian Edwards Media

On being Mates with the Aussies



Spent some time in Brisbane recently visiting our son and daughter-in-law who is ‘with child’. I say ‘our son’ which is technically inaccurate, but I’ve been on the scene so long that what’s hers is mine, and vice versa. Love’s the same either way.

We had a really nice time. They’ve chosen to live in Australia, have a lovely home, good jobs and the weather’s great.

But I worry. We like to think of the Aussies as our good mates across the ditch. But it’s an uneven relationship, something less than a partnership. Generally speaking, I don’t think the Aussies give a stuff about New Zealanders. All that ‘mateship’ rings pretty hollow when it comes to being a Kiwi and living and working in Australia. A child born to New Zealand parents in Oz will wait a decade before it can become a citizen. That’s a longish trial period. And really we’re not that welcome.

We need to take our blinkers off about the Aussies. What we have in common is sport and a history in wars that a majority of us can barely remember. Or not at all. We like them and they sort of like us. As long as we both stay on our own side of the ditch.

I’m up in Leigh, lying in bed, looking out at the sea as I write this. Wouldn’t be anywhere else. We’ll pop into Matakana a bit later for lunch. Everyone knows us round here and we know everyone. I’m reminded every day that coming to New Zealand was the best decision of my life.

And Australia?

Nice place to visit.


  1. The special relationship still exists, between the dwindling band of white Skippies who can trace a family tree back before the end of the white Australia policy, back to WW1 and WW2 and back before the influx of dusky hundreds of thousands from Italy and Greece and the dwindling band of Pakeha Kiwis who grew up in a white better Britain, families who surnames are carved on war memorials and gates of remembrance. When those children of of British Empire bump into each other the ANZAC spirit is present, the attraction is instant and the familiarity of a shared colonial past as part of a lost empire obvious.

    But modern Australia isn’t primarily racially or culturally that white colony anymore. It’s brash, abrasive culture owes more to the machismo of the strutting Latin or Greek than it does to Banjo Patterson or the 9th Australian division. Here, to, Pakeha culture is dying being swamped by massed immigration from China and the Indian sub-continent. I ran a team of 16 IT professionals recently, all from India. None of them had a clue what ANZAC was about and they didn’t care when I asked if they wanted to know. It was just another day off, in the globalised corporate paradise.

  2. Aussies appear far better “mates” than Poms. Why would that be Brian. England is no longer that nice a place to visit.

  3. 3

    There seems to be a bit of casual racism in this thread. I’m sure individual Ozzies of Greek or Italian heritage are diverse in personality.

    While I agree with you Brian that 10 years is a long wait to become an Oz citizenship, as I understand it the same rule applies for all nationalities so it is not a rule specific to Kiwis in Oz.

    But do we really like to think of the Ockers as mates? I’m not so sure. If you judged it by the anti-Ocker sentiment that seems to have permeated many aspects of Kiwi culture one might have a few doubts. We even saw this during the recent coverage of our triumphant AC bid with the demonizing in the media of Jimmy Spithill, who is apparently a loudmouth arrogant Ocker, or so I’ve been lead to believe.

    Maybe if we were nicer to the Ozzies we might be more entitled to complain with a clear conscience, but even now as it stands we are still the only nationality who are allowed to travel and live over there no questions asked.

    • Kia ora bro,
      Born in Wellington, did six years in RNZAF, moved to Queensland 1980 when honest Kiwi Joh was running the sunshine state. Would have to say the best thing here is the weather. Have meet many great aussies , plus a few duds. But you get that anywhere. John Howard led the change that killed the ANZAC spirit. Kiwis coming to Oz cannot get any Federal government jobs, or benefits, or join the military until they become Australian citizens. And it is easier for illegal boat arrivals to obtain citizenship than kiwis – just ask Russell Crowe why he has to travel on a kiwi passport. When I arrived here I asked the local RSL why they didn’t play the NZ National anthem on ANZAC Day, and was asked ‘why’?

      • 3.1.1

        hmm … you’re talking about things as they were over 30 years ago? I believe you will find NZ are very well represented and respected, especially on ANZAC day, far more so than is reciprocated here.

  4. 4

    It’s all one-way traffic when it comes to Australia and NZ. They can stick their “Oi-Oi-Oi” right up their uncouth jacksies, as far as I’m concerned.

    • 4.1

      yeah because Kiwis do so much for Ozzies ah? I think you will still find that Kiwis are very well treated in Oz in comparison to other nationals. It is true that they are no longer entitled to all the rights of being an Ozzie citizen without actually being one, that’s tough luck I guess. Anyone who moves to Oz needs to be aware of the rules as they apply and take responsibility for their own lives, and drop the sense of entitlement.

  5. Not a word from our government against the restrictions on Kiwis in Australia and now John Key has been awarded that country’s highest honour.
    A coincidence, of course.

  6. I use to think that NZ appeared noble by not responding in kind to this treatment of Kiwis in Aust, but we really are starting to just look like mugs.