Romani in New Zealand

Recently I am becoming very interested once again in the situation of Romani people in New Zealand. Despite popular sources [citation needed] claiming that there are no real Romani ‘Gypsies’ in the NZ there is believed to be between 1,200 and 3000 with the most popular sub-group being Romanichal emigrants from the UK and more recently European Roma refugees (vitsas unknown?).

In the UK everyone *feels* like they know what a Gypsy is, it’s also not that uncommon for people to be able to tell the difference between an Irish Traveller and a Romany Gypsy even in-spite of MBFGW’s efforts to cause confusion. But from what I can tell from Google the term Gypsy and Gypsy Travellers in NZ has become incorrectly re-appropriated to mean ‘any old hippy in a truck’. The lifestyle of these housetruckers is indeed interesting, as someone who has spent a great deal of time with New Age Travellers (more the ones who want appropriate a stylised Romani lifestyle than the more new age hippy) I am perfectly comfortable around them but they’re not ‘quite right’. I am painfully aware that they’re not kin. It’s strange really, I read a lot of commentary from American bloggers who discuss the appropriation of the term gypsy to mean ‘free spirited hipster girl’ but as someone who lives in a country with a visible population it is sometimes difficult to truly appreciate the feeling of being erased. Yet now I am trying to research the situation in NZ I feel like I am just hitting my head against a brick wall, you’re not really Romani are you and, infact, are you even pretending to be?

Vintage Housetrucker house.

As part of my research a came across an annual ‘Gypsy Fair’ in Invercargill, I have been informed that it’s a traditional fair but from it’s facebook page all I see is hippies in trucks so I’m a little unsure. I think when they expect my joining request I might just go in guns blazing and ask. I’m not expecting an open harmed welcome, please join our family this instance, but it would be nice to know more. Trying to engage in Romani would probably be the politest way to go about asking but it’s not really a fair indicator, I’m not a natural speaker they’re probably not natural speakers, if they are natural speakers well then that puts me at a disadvantage, making me out as the outsider, silly old romanichal me!

And before I forget here‘s an article about a Romany family. The only true reference I could find.


14 thoughts on “Romani in New Zealand

  1. Jo says:

    Hi you are not alone I am of Romany descent my grandfather was a true traditional Romany in England and my Father from England .thay all moved here in the 1950s. We are a special people with special gifts.

    • Bob Lovell. says:

      Hi Jo if you read this I’d like to get in contact ASP thanks -Parruka tute ta bokt Bob Lovell .

    • Ken Lee says:

      Supporting your comments Jo. I too am of Romany decent on my fathers side. He and his family were traditional gypsies in England and along with the darker skin and dark hair, he had (like many members of his family) a somewhat unconventional gypsy name. Now living in NZ I’d like to know more about the Romany history and culture. Any advice or references would be appreciated.

  2. Chris Bryson says:

    I have an old NZ friend who is 83yrs old and her father was a true Romany Gypsy – dark skinned and dark haired. He was a successful business man as a grower and came to NZ earlier 1900’s.

  3. Julia says:

    That “Gypsy” fair mentioned is complete cultural appropriation that conjures up every racial stereotype many real Romani fight to dispell. In fact, many local Romani in NZ and international Romani people have contacted the fair organizers letting them know how disrespectful it is, and have asked Jim Banks and Gavin Mackenzie the organizers to rename it. It misleads the public and is in no way a representative of actual Romani people. Sad to see people use an ethnic minority for monetary gain with no consideration at all for the very people they are grossly trying to imitate.

  4. Delwyn Lovell says:

    There are very few true Roma in New Zealand. My father was a Welsh Rom who moved here during the war. He married a gorjo however my brother, sister and I are still considered full Rom (my understanding of the Rom culture) . My brother Bob is very much into our heritage and the Romany language and is well known in NZ and Wales. We are all VERY proud of our grassroots and we all dislike the “gypsy fair” that travels around NZ – they are not Romany, they are not gypsies and when my brother looked into it a few years ago, only a one of these so called gypsies had any Roma bloodlines at all.

  5. Bob Lovell says:

    Bob Lovell , I’m a Direct Lovell from the Old Romany Gypsy family from Wales and here in NZ I really like your item well done ! right now Jan 2017 I have started a huge FB protest world wide from hundreds of romany people against the misuse of UK Romany photos (taken by Barrie Law of UK Romany people and their vardos ) these photos are at present being used on Advertizing poster by the original Gypsy Fair people here in NZ . They do not have permission to use these photos for business money making purposes . Us Romany have had enough of this kind of abuse . BobLovell NZ.

  6. Julia says:

    People should avoid the fair till the name is changed and stop supporting the “Gypsy” money making industry that these cultural vampires put on. I found it ironic that they have children’s events set up to enjoy…..meanwhile real Gypsy children are still being segregated in many schools in Eastern Europe. And real Romani encampments are being dismantled leaving people out in the cold in the dead of winter. What a privilege it must be, to be able to turn yourself into a stereotypical fake Gypsy without ever having to face the reality of what we actually go through.

  7. Shiwa says:

    I live in NZ, and have also protested against these ”Gypsy fairs” and my experience of them is that they are scoundrels, and it seems that the Human Rights Commission here don‘t give a damn about it.

    Bob, what is the FB page? Ta

    I’m trying to find out any information on any Roma who have come here, especially post WW2 and of Lovára or other Hungarian-origin or Vlax descent. To contact me: kaliDOTjag—slingshotconz (add the extra bits eh)

    • Bob Lovell. says:

      Hi Shiwa Sar san Pen , do you mean FB page about the Original gypsy Fair that we talking about ? I will try and email you as just seen your comment . Bokt , Bob. PS have lost touch with many Romani here in NZ since I resigned as vice President of RAA . Australia , New Zealand Romani association .

  8. TeamSuperTed says:

    Romani blood here too 🙂 You mean there are more of us??! Hehehe. WIsh there was a Romani NZ FB page!

    • Shiwa says:

      Va, more of us, e lúmja mo them si. 😀

      There is a Yahoo group Aussie Kiwi Roma; it seems rather quiet at the moment though.

      It is all about commoditizing other cultures, and it is also done especially with Māori culture and language. Interestingly, i often get taken as Māori, even being referred once to a local iwi group by someone who insisted that i •must• be Māori, not Romany!

      T’aven baxtale!

  9. Bob Lovell. says:

    Sar san all here YES Be good to meet online and set up our own NZ Romani FB page long over due then we can together fight back against these culture stucking Hippies calling them selves Gypsies when our own people (not here really ) but world wide are treated worse than 2nd class citizens . Rak tutti . Bob Lovell Kamulo .

  10. Bob Lovell says:

    Hi Right now there is a worldwide petition by Romany (Gypsy) people protesting about the so-called original gypsy fair misappropriating our culture and using Romany imagery for money making purposes please sign . Bob Lovell.

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