In 2021 the norm is shifting.
I recently read that “The days of extravagance should be over and the new norm should be much more informal, defined by meaningful experiences, authentic lifestyles and the great outdoors.”
The answer to that will be either – Yeah right or Sweet as.
For someone coming to New Zealand as a visitor it must be hard to get used to saying something like “I will just think about that statement” and hearing ‘Sweet as’ in response. Sweet as what?
The issue is that ‘sweet as’ can mean many things, from a simple ‘okay’ to ‘really awesome’.
Global Culture has always been known for it’s sayings T shirts. Too Cool, Up a mountain, Old and wise and Senior moment have been in the range in some form for over thirty years.
In 2006 the art team were challenged to introduce some new saying t shirts that represented where our culture was at that time. Billy T James had made Kiwi -isms popular through his television appearances.
Frances, the senior artist at the time, and now a successful designer in Melbourne, lead the project and developed the prints, the choice of font and the translation. Her art included Sweet as, Choice eh, Kia Ora bro and Munted. All were successful, but by far the most successful was Sweet as.
‘Sweet as’ is often used interchangeably with ‘awesome’. We tried an ‘Awesome’ print but nothing surpassed the success of ‘Sweet as’. Frances and the art team should get the credit of being the first to introduce the saying commercially on a T shirt. Many copied.
We have this year been trying to reimagine some of our sayings T shirts. ‘Old and wise’, a new one ‘Save water’ and a slightly borrowed one ‘original and unrepaired’. They are an effort to represent where our culture is at the moment, however the globalisation of issues like global warming and COVID have lead us to much more borrowed language as a nation.
The challenge for the art team in 2021 to introduce some new saying t shirts that represented where our culture is today is more difficult because who would they use as an influence. There isn’t a Billy T James or a Fred Dagg or a Lyn of Tawa.
Brett and Jemaine from the Flight of the Conchords in my mind don’t leave us with a lot of iconic sayings. The leave us with a bit of an idea about what Kiwi culture was before COVID.
Their laid back casual attitude to life symbolised what we thought encapsulated Kiwi culture. That ‘She’ll be right’ outlook on life.
When we reintroduced sayings in 2006 we didn’t print a “she’ll be right” T shirt, however we felt that the saying ‘she’ll be ’right’ neatly summed up the Kiwi attitude to life.
It means ‘don’t worry, the chances of something bad happening aren’t really that high, and if something bad does happen, it’s nothing we can’t cope with. It can mean ‘don’t stress’; ‘that’s good’.
As Kiwis we generally don’t sweat about the little things. And then along came COVID.
Self isolation, Social distancing, lockdowns, Quarantine, became common sayings. Mix this with Global warming, environmental impact, climate change.
Well where does all of this leave us?
We’re a funny bunch us Kiwis. Trapped on tiny islands at the end of the earth it appears we’ve evolved a bit differently than the rest of the world and we’re kind of proud of that.
So I still don’t quite know how to sum up sayings to represent New Zealand culture in 2021 other than to perhaps say….. Global warming is not cool.