The Toilets of New Zealand In honor of Lord of the Rings, I wish to talk about the toilets of New Zealand. I traveled to New Zealand in 2002 and got to experience Kiwi toilets firsthand.
When in New Zealand, do not call the toilet the bathroom. There usually is no bathtub in the toilet. If you say bathroom to a Kiwi with your Yank accent, well, they will know what you mean (they get a lot of our television shows), but they might lead you to a room with just a bathtub or say ‘I think you need the toilet, Jin'. It's funny. . .the first time. Remember, you need the toilet, not the bathroom.
So you finally make it to the toilet (or the room containing the toilet). You find a toilet and toilet paper. It all seems pretty much in order. You do what you have to do. No worries. No problemo. Wipe. Flush. ACK! Not so fast kiddo!
On top of the toilet are two buttons: one with a whole circle and one with a half circle. There's no handle, no chain to pull, no sensor on the wall. What is a girl to do? I pressed one of the buttons. Flush! No problemo.
I asked Cam (former Orc and my guide----long story) about the two buttons. He explained that one button is the whole flush and one button is the half flush to save water. He stated this matter of factly as if it was the most obvious thing on the planet. Not to me. In America, we have one handle for one big powerful flush. Whoosh! Anytime we need it. Whoosh! Power! Whoosh! Water! Whoosh! Big and loud! Whoosh!
But New Zealand gives one flush options. I think the Kiwis have something great here. Do you want a big flush or a little flush? It's your choice. It's about what you want. If a full-on flush is too much for you, go with something softer, quieter, less water. It's all up to you---you are not being dictated to by a fascist toilet. It's choice. It's democracy in action. Heck, we oughta have the whole/half flush in America.
Granted, the whole/half flush adds thought to the toilet experience, and Americans don't like to think on the crapper. We'd rather read tabloids. But maybe we could try it out with the hip and eccentric class---those people outside the mainstream who try the latest thing because they need excitement and the everyday thing just doesn't cut it. Then, because the hip and eccentric use the whole/half flush, movie stars will copy them. Movie stars can't find the hip and eccentric on their own. Wait a minute! Russell Crowe and Sam Neil are from New Zealand. I bet they've known about whole/half flush for years. And what about the cast of Lord of the Rings---I bet the hobbits half-flushed.
So movie stars promote usage of the half/whole flush, and it gets written up in magazines, and normal American people (if there are any) read about the flush options (perhaps even while sitting on the toilet) and decide that they want to pee like Aragorn and invest in the whole/half flush. A flush phenomena sweeps the red, white, and blue like Harry Potter and rollerblades.
Manufacturers come up with flush variations---maybe a third button---the ¾ flush. Maybe a super deluxe computer enhanced model will measure the volume of stuff you send down below, and a recorded voice will inform you of the best course of action---‘Half Flush Please'. Star Wars fans could get Yoda on their toilet: ‘Flush whole do you'. Star Trek fans could get Spock: ‘Captain, it would be most logical to half flush'. Bachelors could get a squealy woman lustfully whispering: ‘Flush me whole, bad boy, ohhh yeah'. Women could get a random British actor saying ‘Flush half please, and your ass is perfect, darling'. You could set your toilet to remember important dates: ‘Half flush, and call your mother, it's her birthday'. You could hook your toilet up to the emergency broadcast system: ‘Half flush. BEEEEP. The World's about to end. BEEEP'.
I spoke with several Kiwis about my fascination with the whole/half flush. I had so many questions. What do you do if you half flush and it doesn't all go down, do you whole flush (which will bring you up to a flush and a half) or half flush again? Should you just start with a whole flush to be on the safe side or do you gamble with the half flush? What do you do if you've had three pints? What do you do if you've eaten a lot of beans?
The Kiwi response seems to be half flush because that's how they always did it. However, they have a very special freedom that Americans don't have. The size of their WHOOSH is entirely up to them.
No water was wasted during the writing of this piece.