Mai FM

My car radio can only pick up two FM stations. The talkback station Newstalk ZB and the urban pop of Mai FM. I listen to Mai FM. The music’s ok but I still can’t stand Ja Rule. He really needs to give up the pop-rap thing and make bad films where he pours malt liquor on his dead homies’ graves.

But anyway, Mai has its own culture. A sort of South Pacific wannabe gangsta thing. It’s fun and there’s a real sense of enthusiasm and enjoyment. And unlike other radio stations, Mai FM’s DJs don’t annoy me or make me yell “shut up and play some music!”.

After listening to Mai for the last six months, I have learned the following things:

Area codes

In America there’s hundreds of area codes. When Ludacris and Nate Dogg perform “Area Codes” and brag about how they got “hoes in different area codes”, it’s fairly impressive (they must do a lot of gardening). But in New Zealand there are five regional area codes. So having five hoes isn’t really all that impressive.

So if someone rings up Mai FM and wants to give a shout-out to their area code, shouting out to the oh-nine would include the north of the North Island, from Auckland upwards. And that’s a lot of people to be shouting out to. I think there may be a quota on the limit of people who may be shouted out.

To get around this major problem, instead shouting out to the area code, instead the first three numbers of a person’s phone number are considered to be their “area code”. For example, if I lived in Otara I may wish to give a shout-out to all my crew in the two-seven-four. If I lived in Kelston I would be representin’ the eight-one-eight, which would be extra cool because that’s the same as one of the Los Angeles area codes.

As it is, if I were to give I shout-out based on my phone number I’d be doing it to the six-three-oh, which would be a waste of time because most of my massive are in the oh-two-one (that’s the Vodafone mobile area code, y’all).


An important part of the Mai FM listening experience is the interactive audience participation activity known as the shout-out. This is not unlike when I used to ring up Kiwi FM and dedicate songs “to Catherine P from Matthew K”. Only, you know, they’re not called dedications, they’re shout-outs and therefore are hip and urban.

I think they have an answer phone type of set up where you can ring up and leave your shout-out. Then someone goes through and picks out the ones that aren’t obscene and they get played on air. It’s very exciting to hear one of the DJs say that the shout-outs are “being processed”.

A typical shout-out will go a bit like this:

“Um, I just want to give a shout-out to Tahli and Ana and Pete and Darius and Kelly and Sali and all of the notorious Mt Roskill Intermediate southside crew. Keepin’ it real.”

From listening to the shout-outs it appears that most 11- and 12-year-olds are ruthless criminal gangsta villains, flakin’ and perpetratin’. Yeah, that’s what I remember intermediate school being like.


If you ever ring up for a competition, near the end of the call the DJ will probably ask you what you are representing. The expected answer does not include any of the following:

  • That you are representing Mt Roskill Intermediate in the interschools athletic sports tournament.
  • That you are representing all that wrong with modern society.
  • That you are representing yourself as you believe the court-appointed defence lawyer is incompetent.

Instead you are supposed to say that you represent one of the following:

  • Your “area code”, i.e. the first three digits of your phone number.
  • Your side. This will usually be southside or westside. Occasionally it will be eastside, but no one ever says northside. I’m not sure what happens if you live in the inner city suburbs. Centralside just doesn’t sound right.
  • Your suburb. But only if it’s a cool, urban suburb. Like, don’t say Ponsonby, say Grey Lynn. Don’t say Botany Downs, stretch over a few kilometres and say East Tamaki.

So if I ever rang up to go in the draw for some Dickies pants, and the DJ asked me what I was representing, I could say:

  • The six-three-oh
  • South central AK (I don’t have a side but is in south central Auckland)
  • Mangere (yeah, I don’t live there, but it sounds cooler than Mt Eden).

Bonus hint

Most competition draws have some sort of skill component. This is usually a trivia question, but sometimes the winner will be required to sing a bit of an Ashanti song. I recommend that you familiarise yourself with the opening lines of “Foolish” and work on your best sweet soul seductress voice.


One of my favourite words is choice. Not as in, “you have a choice between red or purple.” Not as in, “choice apples! 50c a kilo!” But rather choice as in “choice, bro.”

The first time I heard the word choice being used with this meaning was in 1984. One day one of the bad-arse Maori boys, who knew all the rad breakdancing moves, started saying it. At first I thought he was saying “Joyce” (who’s Joyce?), but as soon as I figured out that it was choice, I too started describing things as being choice.

Any good Kiwi slangtionary will have choice amongst its list. Various synonyms are given to help define it. Words such as excellent, nice, cool, awesome, and very good are usually suggested, but none of them really define the true spirit that choiceness is. The meaning of choice is a classic example of, “if you have to ask, you’ll never know.” Choice is choice.

Choice is really part of life as a New Zealander. It’s almost like it’s part of the genetic make up. Almost that you can’t help say it, and sometimes you say it and you’re not even aware of it. I found these two examples of the ingrained effect of choice.

This is from a discussion on, where someone had accused Ben of fabricating a discussion between him and Ani:

KMB: I don’t know if Ani (a Kiwi) would really say “Swell!” Maybe “neat!” or “choice!”, but “swell”?

animoller: Hahahaha, you people are morons. Of course he didn’t fake it. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day. I do say swell. I do not say “choice”.

benbrown: You do so say “choice!”

dakota: Yeah, I’ll have to side with Ben. You say choice.

And this is from, where he describes doing a skydive:

Before I could gather my bearings or muster my senses back into order, my instructor carefully pulled the goggles from my eyes.

My instructor: “How was that?”
Me: “It was.. uh.. choice.”

“Choice” was the only superlative my brain and mouth could manage at that particular point.

See? Choice is there, whether you like it or not. Choiceness flows through your veins, it is in the air that you breathe! Choice is everywhere.

But there have been times where I’ve felt self-conscious about saying choice a lot. I’ve tried to stop, but somehow it just wasn’t possible.

So I eventually realised that choice is part of me and my cultural heritage. I don’t have folk dancing, weaving or pottery to define who I am culturally, but I have choice and all its associated choiceness. Yes, choice is choice.

Kiwi Slangtionary

There is allegedly a publication titled “A Teenager’s Guide to Living in New Zealand” which includes a list of slang words that teens who are new to Aotearoa should familiarise themselves with to fit in.

This is a good concept, but I think the list of words was meant for “A 50 Year Old Bogan Farmer’s Guide To Talking With Your Mates Down At The Pub”.

I don’t know many people who use these words on a daily basis, or if they do use them at all, it’s in an detached, alanis-like ironic way.

I decided to write a story using all the words on the list. The words I didn’t know the meanings of (charf, chop, hard graft and prims) got included, but kind of mentally.

Here’s the story. Slangtionary words are in bold, and ones I didn’t know the meaning of, I creatively incorporated and are in italics.

The Bar-b-q

I was over at my bach at Raglan cooking some sausages on my barbie. Suddenly out of the bush came my mate Bruce. “Charf,” he said. I noticed he had on him a kiwi slangtionary that was chocker with words such as “chop,” which is what I was doing to the onions.

Bruce didn’t have a very strong stomach and suddenly began to chunder.

“Mate,” I said to him, “are you feeling a bit crook?”

“I wasn’t until I saw your cooking,” he replied.

That Bruce always was a bit of a dag!

I had forgotten about the barbecue and realised that the sausages were burning, which left me feeling like a bit of a drongo. I ran flat tack to the side of the bach and grabbed a hose and quickly put out the flaming sausages.

I then heard a friendly, “g’day” and saw my neighbour Keith walking over in his gumboots. “Your barbie smells pretty grouse,” he said. “Me and the misses have just been watching one of those blue movies called “Hard Graft III: Nowhere To Hide.”

There was a low rumble and Bruce’s son Dean pulled up in his Kingswood and managed to knock the wheelbarrow over. “You bloody hoon,” Bruce shouted.

Dean walked over wearing his Jandals. He had bought some lollies at the local dairy and offered them around. “I’m feeling pretty munted after Jason’s 21st last night,” he said. “Man, that Jason is a pretty on to it kind of guy.”

Dean ventured off into the paddock out the back and said, “prims.” He was rapt to see the lovely Ange sitting under a tree.

“Howz it goin’?” he asked.

“Not too bad, yourself?,” she replied.

“Ever fallen over a tree?” Dean asked.


“How about a root?”

After they had rooted, Ange wondered if she might be pregnant.

“Nah, she’ll be right” Dean reassured her.

Dean then shot back to the bach and began to brag about what he’d just been up to. He was so pleased he said he’d shout everyone drinks.

But Ange could hear him skiting and felt thoroughly slutted with him.

Dean went the round the back of the shed and enjoyed his tinnie, while Bruce shared some tinnys of Lion Red.

Keith drank a few too many and was a bit unco and fell over. We all had a good laugh at that.

Mate! Who says you can’t have a good time in the wop-wops.