New Zealand is an odd country – the rest of the world knows it, and those of us who live there eventually come to accept it’s true.

This week on Reddit, a user asked: “What is a fact about New Zealand that sounds made up?”

And in the interests of generating content for a new website, here’s a wrap of the best entries – and whether they stand up to scrutiny.

‘Only undefeated team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup’

It’s true. For a brief moment, the New Zealand football side – awkwardly known as the All Whites (there’s an innocent explanation, really) – were simultaneously both the best and the most statistically average side in the world.

They drew every match they played in the 2010 World Cup, but since draws were less worth than half a win under the tournament’s rules, didn’t make it out of the pool round – but were technically undefeated.

Before the Cup, the All Whites were ranked 78th in the world; after, 54th.

Technically, as one Reddit user pointed out, NZ is undefeated in World Cups since 1982 – the last time the rugby powerhouse appeared.

Verdict: True.

All Whites fans show off just how white they are in the match against Italy, 2010. (Image: FIFA/YouTube)

‘Our birds will eat your car’

Kea will apparently eat anything. Eight years ago, a visitor to NZ posted on Reddit: “When we got out of the car to look back out on the pass, one tried to distract us while a second climbed under the car and ripped a plastic cap out of the frame, then they both hopped on top to try to eat the rubber window sealing.”

Here’s a video of kea trying to eat a police car.

Kea destroying police car – YouTube

Here they are preventing someone from listening to radio host Mike Hosking.

Kea Eats Antenna Off Of Car – YouTube

And here’s a website about car stuff that has loads of pics of kea eating Kias.

Verdict: True

‘Every Māori word ends in a vowel’

This one surprised many on r/newzealand. “Holy shit,” said one. “TIL… kiwi in my 40s,” expressed another.

Māori, for the non-New Zealanders and Boomers reading this, are the native people of New Zealand. Their language was heavily suppressed for more than a century after colonisation, but in the past 20 years has undergone a huge renaissance.

But do all its words end in vowels? I’m not going to say for sure, but it seems extremely likely based on the language’s dictionary.

Verdict: Almost certainly true.

‘After giving woman the vote we took away the vote for people of Asian heritage for like 40 years’

It’s a simplification, but appears generally true. Read the Wikipedia entry – it’s long, but well-sourced. Appears most of the discrimination was against Chinese specifically, and it wasn’t fully wiped out until the 1970s. In 2002, an Indian-born English woman was denied a seat she won because she wasn’t a NZ citizen.

Verdict: True enough.

‘Twenty-nine countries boycotted the 1976 Montreal Olympics because New Zealand was allowed to compete’

This is something that’s pretty much gone down the memory hole in New Zealand, probably because one of the country’s defining sporting moments was a gold that year in one of the glamour events.

The All Blacks’ tour of apartheid South Africa was the cause of the boycott, as the link above – to a site literally funded by the Government – states.

Verdict: True.

The NZ Air Force on ‘the bird app’.
(Image: Screenshot/NZ Air Force/Twitter)

‘Our Air Force is represented by a flightless bird, the Kiwi’

See above.

Verdict: True.

‘A communist eco terrorist singlehandedly changed the freshwater ecology of the entire country by waging a decades long campaign to smuggle invasive European freshwater fish into every river and stream he could. Because he believed making fish the commoners caught in England accessible to all was a righteous act of rebellion against the nobility.’

Umm, yes.

Verdict: Yeah, nah, yeah. Wow.

‘We tried to develop a tsunami bomb during WW2’

Not only is it true, it worked – and would have been used against Japan if nukes didn’t.

Verdict: True

‘The Glaxo company, [as] in GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical, was founded in Bunnythorpe, New Zealand’

As befits its stupid name, GlaxoSmithKline had multiple origins – but the core, Glaxo, was founded in Wellington in 1873. Bunnythorpe, with an equally stupid name, is about two hours’ drive north.

But that’s where the cows that provided the company’s income were, to be fair.

Verdict: Mostly true

‘Australia’s constitution allows for NZ to become part of Aussie any time we want to’

Despite decades of denying citizenship to expat Kiwis and deporting Aussie criminals with tenuous links to New Zealand, it seems they haven’t completely forgotten their colonial cousins.

The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act clearly states “other Australasian Colonies and possessions of the Queen”, of which NZ is one, can be “be united in a Federal Commonwealth under the name of the Commonwealth of Australia… at any time”.

With no appetite for a merger, it seems the world will just have to wait for the world’s most unbeatable cricket team.

Verdict: Crikey, it’s true.

‘Every high school in New Zealand is legally entitled to hold one pound of uranium and one pound of thorium, for conducting nuclear experiments’

While this might register a shrug to some, NZ is kind of famous for being nuclear-free… unless you’re in charge of a bunch of 15-year-olds.

A common scene at every New Zealand high school. (Image: Disney)

The catch is, if there’s ever a nuclear explosion… the culprit has to pay a $1m fine.

Verdict: True.

‘In 2001 the second-highest ranked religion in the country was Jedi and we had the highest per capita membership in the world’

Despite The Phantom Menace, it’s true. More than 1.5% of Kiwis that year put ‘Jedi’ as their religion in the country’s official census, making it second only to Christianity. Twenty years later, that still outranks Islam.

Verdict: True.

‘Our most populous city (circa 1/3 of total population) sits on a large volcanic field of approximately 53 volcanoes’

An explosive claim that’s right on the money. About 1.5 million people live in the sprawling Auckland area, whose central isthmus is indeed pockmarked with volcanoes. We’re idiots.

Verdict: True.

‘NZ successfully invaded and captured German territory all on its own a month into World War 1’

Yep. August 1914, NZ invaded the German-held Samoa, and took it without a fight. Later battles in the war wouldn’t go so smoothly.

Verdict: True.

‘We were the only country to sink a Russian ship during the cold war’

The Mikhail Lermontov was a Soviet ocean liner which, after being converted to a cruise ship, struck rocks off the coast of the South Island in 1986 and sank.

Verdict: Technically true.

‘Abortion was only decriminalised in New Zealand in 2020’

For all we like to mock the US and its dumb legal system, New Zealand only took the medical procedure out of the Crimes Act in 2020.

Verdict: True.

‘Instant Coffee was invented in Invercargill’

For a century it was believed the gross powder some wrongly refer to as ‘coffee’ was invented in Chicago in 1901 – but a few years ago it emerged it was actually a New Zealand invention from 1889.

Verdict: True, sadly.