Kia ora – hello! It’s great to meet you!
My name is Jonas. I’m a Scout Leader (Scoutmaster) living in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. I grew up in Australia, and I’ve been a Scout and a Scout Leader in both countries.
I’m the Scout Leader of Northland Scout Troop in Wellington, and a member of Victoria and Mordy Rover Crews. (Rovers are a section of Scouting in Australia and New Zealand for men and women 18-26, a lot like Venturing). I’ve been Scouting for almost 20 years, and I’m a Queen’s Scout (the equivalent of Eagle Scout) and hold my Wood Badge as a leader.
I’ve heard lots of you have questions about Australia and New Zealand, so I’ve put together some information about both countries. You can also ask me a question – just submit it using the form further down this page and I’ll make sure I answer it when we meet online.
Making the most of our time together
We’ve only got an hour or so together, so we’re going to need to work together to make it fun, interesting, and exciting! You can help by:
- Bring lots of questions! It’s totally ok to ask questions about big and little things. You might be wondering about what merit badges we earn here (big question) or just what colour our school buses are (little question) – it’s ok to ask about all kinds of things! You can make sure I answer your question by submitting it below.
- Please make sure your name on Zoom or Google Hangouts is your actual name, or nickname. We won’t have time to introduce everyone and I’ll call you by whatever name is below your picture. Check that it’s not Mom or Dad’s!
- Scoutmasters and Cub Leaders have lots of names – you can call me Dropbear. It’s my Scouting name and lots of Cubs and Scouts call me that! (You can ask me how I got that name, too!) You absolutely do not have to call me Mr Jonas or Mr Dropbear; in New Zealand, we call our Scout Leaders by their first names.
- Please mute your microphone when you are not speaking. I’ll try to make sure I mute mine when you are speaking, too.
You might be wondering about…
New Zealand has three official languages: English, te reo Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language. Te reo Maori is the language of the Maori, New Zealand’s first inhabitants.
Most people speak English at home, and most schools teach in English. You can go to a ‘kura kaupapa Maori,’ a Maori immersion school, where everyone speaks te reo Maori and you learn more about Maori culture, traditions, and beliefs.
Everyone learns at least a little bit of te reo Maori at elementary school. You might have heard a New Zealander say “kia ora” instead of “hello.” “Kia ora” is a te reo Maori word which means “hello and good health,” and you can use it any time you say hello or goodbye to someone – your friends, your teacher, or your Scout or Cub Leaders!
Lots of people move to New Zealand from other parts of the world: Some New Zealanders also speak other languages like Hindi, Chinese, or French with their families.
New Zealand has a population of just 4.5 million people – that’s about the same size as Seattle, Phoenix, or Tampa. Not everyone lives in one city, though. Our largest cities are:
- Auckland – 1.5 million people
- Christchurch – 377,000 people
- Wellington (the nation’s capital) – 225,000 people
Just one million people live in the entire South Island.
New Zealanders eat lots of the same food you do! I asked some Cubs and Scouts what their favourite foods were, and they said pizza, McDonalds, steak, ice-cream and chocolate (although we do have vegetables here, too!) We also love seafood – because most New Zealand towns are on the coast, we enjoy lots of fresh seafood.
New Zealanders love sport – especially cricket, rugby, and soccer (European football). Lots of young people play all three!
Basketball is popular at school, but our professional league is nowhere near as large as the NBA. Lots of Kiwi basketball fans like to watch NBA games.
Football (which we call American Football) is not popular in New Zealand. There are just a few teams, and none of them are professional or university (college) teams.
Notes for Leaders:
Before our meeting:
It’s a long way to New Zealand or Australia! You might like to set the scene by sharing one of these videos with your Cubs or Scouts:
Air New Zealand:
There are some things which we won’t be able to cover during our call:
- Live native animals: New Zealand and Australia’s native wildlife is unique and extraordinary – which is why we let it stay wild! I am very keen to talk to your Scouts and Cubs about our native fauna, but I can’t bring any with me to our meeting. If your Scouts or Cubs have a special interest in Australian or New Zealand animals, please let me know in advance and I’ll try to arrange for one of my zoologist or marine biologist friends to join us.
- The haka: The Ka Mate haka is one of New Zealand’s most well-known cultural exports (don’t know it? You probably actually do – check it out here) and many people are keen to learn how to perform it. Haka are a Maori (indigenous New Zealander) tradition and I don’t have enough experience to teach it appropriately. We can, however, learn some campfire songs in te reo Maori, and some te reo Maori greetings and phrases.
- Politics: New Zealanders and Australians enjoy a very different political discourse than the United States: Talking about who you vote for is a very personal matter. I’m happy to discuss the structure of our government (a part of the Citizen of the World merit badge) but will not be passing judgement on political leadership in any country, and I ask your Scouts to do the same.