After a year of living in the Netherlands, I’ve come to find a few things here lacking so I started wondering if there is anything the Netherlands could learn from New Zealand? Or anything the Dutch learn from Kiwis?

There is a country at the bottom of the globe named Land of the Long White Cloud. Its residents are known for their relaxed beach culture, delicious wine, outstanding rugby team and unrivalled landscapes.

It may be small but sets a big example in many regards. New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote and its current Prime Minister was only the second woman in the world to ever give birth whilst in office.

What NZ could teach the Netherlands
The Wanaka Tree in the South Island of New Zealand. Incredible photo by @emilypeilan at Freedom Wanderers.

To be clear, there is also a lot that NZ could learn from the Netherlands (living more communally, bike culture, effective public transport, better work/life balance, liberal drug policies) but that’s for another article…

1How to make a decent coffee

books about the netherlands
Image: Pixabay/Pexels

You can’t get away from good coffee in New Zealand and you can’t get away from a bad coffee in the Netherlands. There is nothing more disheartening than paying near four euros for a sub-par coffee.

There are two places I have found in the Amsterdam which do good coffee – Bruno’s in the Jordaan and Scandanavian Embassy in De Pijp (sponsor me please). Aside from that, can Dutchies please learn how to froth milk properly?

2Meat is expensive – so make it show in the price

The Netherlands had the biggest annual price rise in 10 years with an estimated five percent increase to meat prices in 2019. However, Minister Schouten still believes that Dutch food remains too cheap and more efforts should be made to invest in environmental and sustainable food.

And it’s true. You can purchase meat so inexpensively which is quite possibly why the Netherlands meat consumption is remaining stable, despite most Dutchies’ awareness of the negative impact meat consumption has on the environment.

In NZ the price of meat more adequately reflects the cost meat production.

3Better weather

Hey Netherlands, do you realise there are other types of weather apart from rain? And that there are also four seasons! As well as winter and autumn there is also summer and spring.. fancy that?!

Surprisingly, many people think New Zealand is consistently warm despite it getting very cold during winter. The beauty of seasons is the fact they are just that, seasonal. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in the Netherlands.

4Food in the nude: stop wrapping fruit and vegetables

Countdown supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Lily Sawbridge/Supplied

Walking into a Dutch supermarket after living in New Zealand for so long can be alarming. Counters are loaded with single vegetables wrapped in plastic. So agonisingly unnecessary.

New World, one of the leading supermarkets in New Zealand kicked off their 2019 with the “food in the nude”. In this they eliminated almost all plastic packaging on their fresh produce. Nigel Bond, manager of one of the New World supermarkets, said “When you take on these projects they can be a disaster and lead to customer pushback but in my 30 years in the supermarket industry this simple change has resulted in the most positive feedback from customers I have ever received”, NZ Herald reports. 

NZ supermarkets
Plastic-free fruit display at Countdown supermarket in New Zealand. Photo: Lily Sawbridge/Supplied

5The art of conversation: How to be honest whilst also being nice

Dutchies are getting endless slack for the Dutch directness. This straightforwardness is so valued in Dutch society that there’s even a Dutch word for it: bespreekbaarheid. This roughly translates to “speakability” or “negotiability” and means that no topic should be taboo.

Facebook groups are strewn with “you won’t believe what a Dutch person said to me today” stories. I’ve had my fair share of blunt comments, such as the time a stranger told me my hair looked awful. But I find this refreshing as I believe it creates authenticity and builds good rapport.

When I tell people I can from New Zealand the immediate response is “everyone is so lovely there!” and whilst they are, I have often found it to be superficial niceness. By comparison, people in the Netherlands are far more considerate and genuine so from my experience, the affable nature of the kiwis is a bit of a social faux-pas. Nonetheless, many others believe the Dutch should learn tact from people like the Kiwis.

6Equality in public toilets

A typical Amsterdam urinal. Image: Balou46/ Wikimedia Commons

So riddle me this Dutchies. Men get to pee freely by using standing pee stations but women have to pay? As much as 50 cents? and sometimes 70 cents?!

This flatland used to perform well in equality rankings but in the latest World Economic Forum for gender equality, the Netherlands dropped 11 places to number 38. Maybe the lack of pee stations for women has something to do with this?

This toilet-inequality issue has been heard in court after Geerte Piening, 23, received a €90 fine for popping a squat in an alleyway after a night of drinking. When she challenged the fine, the judge told her she should have used public urinal (another Dutch fail).

7Stop charging for water

charging for water in the Netherlands
Germ free.. Source: jasongillman/Pixabay

If you ask for water when out for dinner in the Netherlands, the waiters will bring you paid bottled water by default. But there are even times I have been charged for tap water. Yes TAP water. Are you kidding me? So it is important to clarify if the water costs or not before you guzzle three bottles and stare in dismay at the bill at the end of the night.

Paying for water is a rarity in New Zealand and tap water is provided free of charge at most establishments. What’s more, is you will also see water fountains dotted around most cities so you can even access water while jogging along the beach or pull over in your car and fill up your water bottle.

So there you go. 7 things the Dutch could learn from the Kiwis. Disagree? Agree? We love debate and being challenged! Fire away in the comment section! 

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