Well as an indirect progenitor I suppose I'd better add something to this thread. there are lots of points so this may be a bit disjointed, so apologies in advance. First, thanks for the support Kat (blush).
Alistair. I'm sure I know what you intended, but lets be quite clear that although it is a normal human reaction to make fun of things that scare us, poking fun at others is not necessarily xenophobic in origin. As Bert and Steve note, poking fun at people as "foreign" as the next street is common in the UK, and you don't have to read many threads to see that it is a common trait here, with no derogatory overtones.
I do have to disagree with you about your examples from the Pacific. It is very difficult to attribute motives for actions several hundred years ago even within ones own culture, and to do so for others is even more fraught. I agree that there is little or no eveidence of xenophobia in its literal meaning in these encounters, but don't make the mistake of thinking that this meant there was no hostility to outsiders whether European or from other Islands. The pre European political groupings in the Pacific (the largest being the Hawaiian archipeligo, and the Tongan inter-archipeligal empire) were created by conquest and "removal" of people who were "different". They and the Maori did not fear European visitors any more than Europeans feared them, because both were confident of their ability to survive any hostility, and of the pre-eminience of their own culture.
Having said all that I do accept that styles of humour are not universal, and that others may have taken my post at face value despite what I thought were fairly heavy hints to the contrary, and if so please accept that they were indeed intended in jest.
Right, soap box back to corner.
Cara, you have got rather mixed up I fear. The extended middle digit is a conmmon Western European insult (obviously phallic in origin). There is some by no means conclusive evidence that the peculiarly English use of the V sign for this purpose derived as you note, but Fuck is good Anglo-Saxon and pre dates Agincourt by a long bow shot.
Anyway Xena is a New Zealander after all, so - if any of you'se guys are interested in old saucepan lids, only worn once, still slightly warm....