How to spot a bogan

April 13, 2010 at 2:00 am 8 comments

My stats tell me that lots of people followed the link to the Wikipedia entry for bogan, which I provided in the post telling you I’m about to choof off to New Zealand to live. Since the majority of my readers are from the United States, I thought I would provide some further guidance on what exactly is a bogan and, more importantly, how to spot one. Since I’m about to move to NZ, I also undertook some serious research to find out if bogans exist there.

But first: who or what is a bogan? Aussies who aren’t bogans (ie that would be me for example!) will tell you that a bogan is someone from the the lower working class demographic, usually residing in the outer-urban fringes of a city with inadequate social infrastructure in those fringes. Check out the Wikipedia entry for bogan here to get more details. The word bogan appeared in Australian literature in the 1800s and usually referred to something of poor quality.

The first hint that you might be dealing with a bogan is the speech pattern. Bogans speak in a different language – Boaglish – and shorten their words. For example, fishing becomes fishun. So the suffix -ing is non-existent and is transformed into -un. A bogan also adopts nicknames for people and places. So the Leagues Club becomes leaguesy or Shane Warne (cricket dude) becomes Warnsey.

A second hint that you might be face to face with a bogan is the moniker they have inflicted on their (poor suffering) children – Shazza, Dazza, Montana, Dakota, Baz, Kylie, Charlene, Khayleigh, Memphis, Mikaela, Savannah, Tiffanee, Dallas. Some of these names very well suit American states and cities but a bogan also loves to give kids these sorts of names.

A bogan usually drives a Holden, Ford or possibly a beaten-up old Datsun car sometimes festooned with flame patterns or fluffy dice hanging off the front mirror. They often take the bogan vehicle out for a spot of hooning, which is usually accompanied by loud screeching of tyres (or tires for my American friends) or the blaring out of Barnsey music or Midnight Oil (The Oils to bogans).

A bogan usually has a lot of time on their hands because most likely they are unemployed (aka dole bludgers). So they sit around in their flats (apartments) or boganvillas, in their cheap flanno shirts, drinking Victoria Bitter (or VB) or they lurk in the local RSL waiting for the $10.00 lunch special of bangers and mash followed by tinned fruit salad. Yum.

The dress sense of a bogan is a dead give-away. Apart from the flanno, they love Ugh boots, singos (singlets), black leggings, trucker caps, piercings of the eyebrows and basically any out-dated fashion they can lay their hands on.

American readers: think of bogans as white trash, trailer trash, rednecks or hillbillies and I think you have it. Although I appreciate that between these species, there are subtle differences. And now to the question for today – does New Zealand have bogans? After extensive research, I can tell you that NZ boasts its very own postgraduate student who was awarded NZ $100,000 to study the bogan lifestyle. Dave Snell is a self-confessed Kiwi bogan who declares bogans are not dull-witted, unkempt or uncouth:

Apparently, the NZ bogan is immediately identifiable from the tattoo or T-shirt of choice (very popular: Metallica or AC/DC, an Australian heavy metal band usually referred to by bogans as Acca/Dacca). They are also seen typically clad in black rib jerseys, tight black jeans or tracksuit pants (trackie-dacks). So the key to spotting the NZ bogan is the black clothes, sometimes with beer or Jack Daniels’ Finest Tennessee Whiskey logos. Their favourite haunts are rugby matches and the back roads of country NZ. It would seem that hoons are referred to as petrol-heads over there.

My research tells me that NZ bogans flourish in the provincial cities and towns of Invercargill, Wanganui, New Plymouth, Ashburton and Nelson. I’m yet to discover if the species exists in Oxford but will let you know.  NZ bogans are called by different names depending on geographic location, with westies, booners and bevans being other terms. NZ bogans seem to like hassling kids. In Hamilton, bogans were living in a property next to a High School and, whilst lounging around drinking beer all day, shouted derogatory stuff to kids causing security guards to be hauled in. This would seem to signal a slight difference between NZ Boganis and Boganis Australianus (as I believe the species are referred to). The Aussie bogan lays off the kids.

NZ bogans appear to love loitering in shopping malls but can also be found congregating in pubs that offer live entertainment and dimly lit carparks. Like Aussie bogans, they have free-time on their hands due to bludging not working and so NZ bogans network with fellow bogans on public transport.

Apparently, I just need to watch NZ’s longest-running TV documentary, Outrageous Fortune, to study NZ Boganis. And I have heard mutterings that NZ has its very own bogan QueenPaula Bennett – who is a high ranking Cabinet member and a favourite of NZ Prime Minister, John Key (which leads me to ask the truly important question: is the NZ Prime Minister the world’s first bogan PM?).

So you can see dear reader that whilst I may have a desire to escape the Aussie bogan, NZ Boganis exists in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Subtle differences are evident but a bogan is a bogan. I plan to examine NZ Boganis when I arrive and will report my findings on my new blog.

Meanwhile: any bogans reading this post – please don’t email accusing me of bogan-bashing.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. creativespark  |  April 13, 2010 at 6:14 am


    Just don’t mistake us creative types as bogans. We’ve got a fondness for black too. That way our work always looks better in a meeting if we hold it up and use our shirt as a background.

    And it’s possible that heavy metal ts are post-post-post-ironic, therefore making them trendy this week.

    I was going to say that the key might be that creative types wouldn’t be seen dead with a mullet (an enduring hairstyle dating back to the 1980s), but I see Mr Schnell has a pretty trendy cut. Put him in a pair of black-rimmed glasses and he’d blend right in at an advertising agency gathering.

  • 2. thinkingshift  |  April 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Matey!! I am very partial to black myself and like to think of myself as (somewhat) creative, so don’t worry – there won’t be a future post launching myself at creative types.

    I thought the way Dave Snell balanced his top knot thing with his beard was quite original and yep, plonk some rather spiffy black-rimmed glasses on him and I could see him brainstorming the latest ad for Coke or something similar!

  • 3. Paris  |  April 18, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    These bogans sound cool compared to our poor uneducated youth. Ours do not only dress as R&B stars, but deal drugs, throw rocks to police and firemen, steal, rape….Actually I’m all for an exchange send us your bogans, we will send you our “jeunes de cités”…

  • 4. thinkingshift  |  April 18, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    My step-son who’s French has told me about the youths. Ah, I think we’ll keep the bogans thx Paris 🙂

  • 5. Baoman  |  May 30, 2010 at 9:14 am

    I’m reminding you that you need to update us on the presence of NZ boganthal near your new home …

  • 6. thinkingshift  |  May 30, 2010 at 10:17 am

    hah! thx Bill for the reminder! I believe I am almost ready to do a post on Christchurch hoons and bogans. Not yet ready to do an Oxford one as we’re not there yet (still house and cat sitting). But an update is forthcoming.

  • 7. Ron Brownson  |  July 14, 2011 at 3:44 am

    I would like to link to you blog on my blog about Bogans and also reproduce there your photograph of the Bogan guy wearing the blanket.

    Is that OK with you?

    Please reply to me at:

    My blog postings are at:

    • 8. thinkingshift  |  July 15, 2011 at 8:26 am

      Hello Ron

      By all means link to my blog.


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