The tiers of the New Zealand Primary School Experience

By Ella Gibson

Going to primary school in New Zealand during the early 2000s was a wild ride. 

The time was characterised by a multitude of random and wacky things that were entirely idiosyncratic to New Zealand and its primary school experience. This article is a tiered list of all things that made Aotearoa’s early Naughties primary school experience so legendary. 

The categories and rating system of the tiers go as follows: “Heads Down Thumbs DOWN” (nothing of exceptional notoriety or charisma), “Moshi Monsters Membership” (pretty damn good) and “Skux Deluxe” (the elitist of tiers). Disclaimer: I am aware that there may be some disagreements on how elite each aspect of the NZ primary school experience may be, but this is an entirely subjective view and up for debate if a placement enrages you. 

Heads Down Thumbs DOWN

Safari Wide Brim Hats: These hats weren’t just solely limited to their repulsive appearance, but also the way teachers would taunt you with the infamous saying “no hat no play” at lunchtime and morning tea if you forgot the delightful garment.  

Buddy Reading: I don’t think any student, young or old, was ever a fan of having to awkwardly read a picture book with a student that you did not know. 0/10, do not recommend. 

JOVI Crayons: These crayons genuinely made everyone’s pencil case. But were they not just notorious for breaking at any instant. Terrible. 

Bull Rush: Nothing scared me more than the possibility of being involved in a game of bull rush. If I played tackle rugby, maybe it would have been a different story. 

Le Snak: This cheddar cheese is the very reason why I went vegan. 

Rainbow Parachutes: When thought about, the concept of running underneath a massive colourful sheet is honestly so bizarre. 

Moshi Monsters Membership

School Singing: The epitome of primary school in Aotearoa is the singing that took place. Hits like “Fish n Chips” and “Kiwi Kids” will forever be legendary. However, because of their cult-like essence, they do not make the “Skux Deluxe” tier. 

School Patrol: I will forever be salty that I never got the opportunity to engage in school patrolling. But nevertheless, “signs out, check, clear, cross now” is a phrase forever unfortunately ingrained in my memory. 

Smiggle:  Only the real ones would be kitted out with Smiggle stationary. Nothing slapped more than the ice cream erasers. But again, because of the obsessive and exclusive cult-like nature of Smiggle, it does not make the “Skux Deluxe” cut. 

Playdates After School: How good was having a primo day with the besties at school and then afterwards running up to your caregiver that was there to pick you up and asking them for a playdate? Nothing compares. 

The Dentist Van: Did you or did you not feel superior to your peers when you were exempted from class to go into the dentist van? 

Plastic Yellow Cricket Bats:Primary school PE would not have been the same without the presence of these illustrious pieces of plastics: iconic. 

Skux Deluxe

Jump Jam: There was no way that Jump Jam was not going to make the “Skux Deluxe” tier. Jump Jam may have haunted you, but nevertheless, it epitomised the NZ primary school experience. 

Juicies & Moosies: Fridays would only be complete with Juicies and Moosies being a part of the party. I must declare, the Bubblegum Moosie is the elite primary school desert. 

Harold The Giraffe: The carpeted van walls, the lady cut in half so you could see her organs, and the terrible puppet that was Harold was the highlight of all the primary school experiences. Fight me if you beg to differ. 

Infamous ‘S’ Drawing: If this Superman S was not plastered on your desks, pencil cases and everything in between, did you really go to primary school in NZ? 

Poptropica, Moshi Monsters & Club Penguin: Could anything ever beat jumping on board the Poptropica balloon, getting a new moshling on Moshi Monsters or making a deluxe pizza on Club Penguin? I’ll wait… 

Certificates In Assembly: The honour of receiving a sticker-engrossed A5 sheet of paper awarding your participation made you feel like a proper boss.