A barefoot childhood is something Kiwis are proud of. For me bare feet were reserved for the beach - and having no shoes on in a shop or on the road was on a level with eating in the street - an absolute no no. I still furtively bite into an apple if I'm walking in public (I am lying about the apple - it's a chocolate bar or it was until the late New Year resolutions)
Kiwi kids tend to kick off their shoes anywhere. I was a little taken aback to see children walking to and from school barefoot... my kids of course have gone native quickly and the shoes (and jumper) are dumped along with the school bag as as soon as we get to the classroom.
We got this note home from school about this week's cross country race. Along with the usual instructions to bring a drink etc was the sort of advice I've never seen before...
It did make me laugh... like seeing the "no dogs allowed" signs in English pubs. I remember thinking 'well of course no dogs are allowed'. Well, likewise 'of course you wear shoes in a race.'
Apparently we Australians are more uptight than we'd like to think... My kids are going to get wide flat feet and soles like shoe leather but they look pretty happy about it.