Kiwi exchange no laughing matter – unless you have good health cover

Today I will be talking about New Zealand.

Why?

Because aside from the many similarities we share with New Zealanders, such as celebrating our ANZAC Day the very same day, and our historic bi-lateral agreement banning any future above-ground testing of a Rugby Union/Rugby League hybrid game, I have been offered an official New Zealand exchange starting on April 17th.

OK, so my exchange will only last 14 days.

Possibly less, depending on how I pronounce the word “six” (which, from what I understand, is a Kiwi word meaning “sexual intercourse”). However, if all goes well, I will get to spend an entire fortnight with real New Zealanders, eating nothing but Fush and Chups, chewing pineapple lumps that tastes like soap, and emptying my ‘Chilly Bin’ (which I swear really sounds inappropriate for a family-friendly publication.)

Undoubtedly there are readers in Australia who are surprised, possibly even outraged, by my willingness to participate a New Zealand exchange. Rest assured this decision came after many hours of soul searching, and the realisation that with my free New Zealand health coverage — and access to a high performance vehicle — I could potentially see more medical specialists in 24 hours than I’ve seen in the past 15 years on my Medicare card. I could use a different dermatologist for each mole on my body! This is a vast improvement over my current health plan, which only covers moles large enough to be claimed as a dependent.

And even then, only until it reaches age 18.

So with this in mind I can now understand why soldiers choose very carefully as to where they want to jump on an exchange program.

You may be wondering how the offer of a 14-day exchange came abit (That’s not a typo; it’s Kiwi phonetics). As much as I’d like to tell you it’s a direct result of the impact my article writing has had on the New Zealand people, the truth is it has more to do with an outstanding exchange program between the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces and I, much to my shock was selected to participate. My accommodation is in exchange for a monthly shipment of Dick Smiths Bush Foods Breakfast cereal from Australia which, by not being subject to New Zealand’s “Goods and Services Tax,” will save my host an estimated $3,000 a year.

At least in Australian dollars.

I’m not sure what that equals in New Zealand currency because it’s measured in millimetres.

Or kilograms.

Or some type of denomination meant to confuse Australian tourists — thousands of whom are arrested each year for driving 120 kph through downtown Auckland. These are the same people who arrive in Christchurch in late January dressed in polar fleece because they think there’s a 50-degree temperature drop between Australia and New Zealand.

To be honest, free medical coverage wasn’t my only motivation for participating in a New Zealand exchange. I’m more interested in experiencing how they do business and seeing attractions like Pancake Rocks near Punakaiki, South Island, which look like a huge stack of pancakes! According to my calculations, if these were actual pancakes, they would have to be consumed by a person roughly the size of a Maori Rugby player.

Or, in standard Australian measurements, 1-in-5 people leaving McDonald’s over a 24 hour period.

As you can tell, I’m excited about my 14-day New Zealand exchange. To make the most of it I plan to see as much of Wellington as possible, beginning with a quick trip through Spotswood, and continuing on to Golden Downs and Tata Beach.

Of course, that’s assuming I don’t get arrested for speeding or worse — get hospitalised by a Rugby-loving woman after striking up a conversation about her “Chilly Bin”.

Hey, at least I’ll have health coverage.

 

 

Andrew DouglasAndrew Douglas is a long-suffering Aussie Digger who, after many hours of sitting in a pit with a notebook and pen writing his woes, has turned his hand to writing for leisure and entertainment in the comfort of his lounge room. He and his partner, Sonia, live in a 100-year-old home in southern NSW, where Andrew uses his home-repair skills to make improvements, such as being able to flush the toilet by turning on the garden tap.


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Brian Hartigan

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