Herald of Opera asks:

Do you like penguins? (Same question goes for Jim the Editor; I always ask this whenever an opportunity for an unbounded question arises, including careless wording.) (Also, whenever speaking up in favor of Sword & Shield’s National Dex removal, I make sure to mention the absurdly slim chances of Piplup getting in as proof that it hurts me more than it probably hurts them)

Penguins are fµ¢£ing great (and this is our shared opinion, by the way).  They’re birds, but instead of flying they swim!  And on land they’re so waddly and dumb and cute, but in the water they’re so… so… M A J E S T I C.  Piplup remains to this day my favourite Water-type starter, for reasons that I’m not even going to pretend are based entirely in sober design analysis.  And there are gay penguin couples who adopt eggs and chicks, acting as aspirational figures for the LGBT community and filling the hearts of the entire world with warmth and fuzziness.  As long as we’re on penguins, I’m going to direct readers to the Instagram account of the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, home of a colony of New Zealand’s native little blue penguins (scientifically proven to be the smollest and most adorable of all penguins), one of whom each month is designated “good penguin” or “naughty penguin of the month.”  And, of course, I would be doing you all a great disservice if I didn’t tell you that New Zealand is also where several of the oldest species of fossil penguins come from, some of them gigantic fossil penguins as tall as humans, like the new species Crossvallia waiparensis described just a few weeks ago from fossils found in Canterbury.

…so I guess what I’m saying is the answer to your question is “yes.”

Anonymous asks:

Do you know why “wh” is pronounced like “f” in Maori? Is it an evolution in the language that happened since it was first transcribed with the Latin alphabet? Did linguists think they were hearing something else?

You know, I’ve wondered that myself, but I actually have no idea.  As I understand it, the sound was originally supposed to be a bilabial and not a labiodental like an English f, but when that sound turns up in other languages it normally gets transcribed as f or ph, so I’m not sure what made the Pakeha linguists decide to write it as wh.  I gather the pronunciation varies a lot between dialects, and probably sounds quite different in modern Maori than it did in the early 19th century.

Anonymous asks:

If they made a region based on New Zealand, would you be a harsher critic, or an excited one? How would you feel? Especially if (no..if they did New Zealand, they will do it)if they design Auckland. Do you have a house/apartment there? Because if you did, wouldnt it be funny if there was a trainer named Chris in the Pokemon version of Auckland. Oh my goodness, what if they designed you as the archeology champion of New Zealand (first they’d have to contact you…of course..), Archaeology Champion Chris of the new zealand region: A moa pokemon, a thylacine pokemon, a LOTR Orc pokemon, Claydol, Sigilyph, and an Ancient version of Vileplume. The ancient version of Vileplume would be similar to the modern one, except it would be three times bigger, a more wilted looking version of the “body”, with ivy all over, and for the piece de resistance, perhaps instead of the rafflesia arnoldii, it would be a gingko biloba looking plant, or ferns, or other ancient plants…

I feel like I would probably be a harsher critic than I usually am, just because the rest of the world (including Japan) tends to have a very idealised vision of New Zealand as very pure and peaceful and enlightened that kind of feeds into our own denial of the real problems the country has, while also missing a lot of what makes our history and culture really interesting.  So I think it would be very easy for a Pokémon region based on New Zealand to fail to meet my expectations.

I don’t think I need to be a Champion; I’m not that impressive, or that good a mascot for New Zealand, to be honest (and I should point out here that thylacines are Australian – New Zealand has no native land mammals except for bats).  Wouldn’t mind having a Grass-type gym though.

Anonymous asks:

I came across the story of Kupe and the giant octopus of Muturangi and find it really interesting! But I’m having a difficult time following all the (Maori?) words in the text… If you know the story, could you provide a summary of it? And is it popular or well known in New Zealand, or actually an obscure piece of folklore?

I wouldn’t say it’s obscure, but it’s not one of the stories I was taught at school; I know it because I happen to have a Maori language textbook that draws a lot of example sentences from the story.  This page should give you the gist of it.  Here’s a rudimentary glossary of words that might confuse you (note: the letters “wh” in Maori make something close to an “f” sound, so the word for octopus, wheke, is pronounced roughly like “feké”): Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”

Anonymous asks:

What sorts of conspiracy theories are popular in New Zealand? Do kiwis believe in reptiloids?

Does anyone anywhere actually believe in reptiloids?  I don’t know; these things live on the internet and the internet is everywhere, so the same nonsense as people believe in the USA, I suppose.  Perhaps somewhat fewer of us, although I don’t have any statistics to back that up.  I think we have somewhat more trust in our government than the Americans do (if nothing else, it’s more transparent and less powerful than theirs) so it takes a bit more to make us believe that something really world-shattering like aliens is being covered up.  In particular, the one about the world really being flat is a very difficult one to take seriously when you live in the southern hemisphere, simply because we’re more conscious of the practical consequences of the fact that it’s round.

Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”

Cell Block Chacha asks:

So between your experience in New Zealand and what you’ve got so far here in America, which place would you say is more LGBT friendly? Just asking out of curiosity as a gay American myself.

Eh.  I don’t think I’m really the best person to ask.  Like, I come from New Zealand’s biggest city, so I grew up in an environment that was quite socially progressive even by our standards, and now I live in Ohio, which is… probably not the very best America has to offer on that front?  But on the other hand, most of the people I actually have anything to do with are academics like me, and academics pretty much everywhere are overwhelmingly liberal and have no patience for discrimination (my department has… at the moment, I think like seven or eight openly gay or bi graduate students, including me?).  I don’t really get out much, and since I don’t have a boyfriend there’s really no reason a stranger would know I’m gay unless I choose to tell them, so it just doesn’t come up.  That’s… that’s probably not a very good answer.  In strictly legal terms New Zealand is certainly very progressive as far as that goes, more so than most parts of the United States, but I don’t actually know how we’d compare to somewhere like California or Massachusetts.