Culture of New Zealand

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The culture of New Zealand is a synthesis of home-grown and imported cultures. The country's earliest inhabitants brought with them customs and language from Polynesia, and during the centuries of isolation, developed their own Māori and Moriori cultures. British colonists in the 19th century brought Western culture and had a dramatic effect on the indigenous inhabitants, spreading their religious traditions and the English language. Māori culture also influenced the colonists and a distinctive Pākehā or New Zealand European culture has evolved. More recent immigration from the Pacific, East Asia, and South Asia has also added to the cultural melting pot.

Cultural history[edit]

Polynesian explorers reached the islands between 1250 and 1300. Over the ensuing centuries of Polynesian expansion and settlement, Māori culture developed from its Polynesian roots. Māori established separate tribes, built fortified villages (), hunted and fished, traded commodities, developed agriculture, arts and weaponry, and kept a detailed oral history. At some point, a group of Māori migrated to Rēkohu, now known as the Chatham Islands, where they developed their distinct Moriori culture.[1] Regular European contact began from 1800, and British immigration proceeded rapidly, especially from 1855. European colonists had a dramatic effect on the Māori, bringing Christianity, advanced technology, the English language, numeracy and literacy. In 1840 Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, intended to enable the tribes to live peacefully with the colonists. However, after several incidents, the New Zealand Wars broke out from 1845, with Māori suffering a loss of land, partly through confiscation, but mainly through widespread and extensive land sales. Māori retained their identity, mostly choosing to live separately from settlers and continuing to speak and write te reo Māori. With mass migration from Europe, a high Māori death rate and low life expectancy for Māori women, the indigenous population figure dropped between 1850 and 1930, becoming a minority.

Black and white engraving depicting a crowd of people
A meeting of European and Māori inhabitants of Hawke's Bay Province. Engraving, 1863.

European New Zealanders (Pākehā), despite their location far from Europe, retained strong cultural ties to "Mother England".[2] These ties were weakened by the demise of the British Empire and loss of special access to British meat and dairy markets. Pākehā began to forge a separate identity influenced by their pioneering history, a rural lifestyle and New Zealand's unique environment. Pākehā culture became prevalent after the wars, but after sustained political efforts, biculturalism and the Treaty of Waitangi became part of the school curriculum in the late 20th century, to promote understanding between Māori and Pākehā.

More recently, New Zealand culture has been broadened by globalisation and immigration from the Pacific Islands, East Asia and South Asia. Non-Māori Polynesian cultures are apparent, with Pasifika, the world's largest Polynesian festival, now an annual event in Auckland.

The development of a New Zealand identity and national character, separate from the British colonial identity, is most often linked with the period surrounding World War I, which gave rise to the concept of the Anzac spirit.[3] Many citizens prefer to minimise ethnic divisions,[citation needed] simply calling themselves New Zealanders or, informally, "Kiwis". New Zealand marks two national days of remembrance, Waitangi Day and Anzac Day, and also celebrates holidays during or close to the anniversaries of the founding dates of each province.[4]

Pākehā (New Zealand European) culture[edit]

Men displaying a catch of rabbits and fish. A marginal note reads "New Zealand Life".
European settlers developed an identity that was influenced by their rustic lifestyle.[5] In this scene from 1909, men at their camp site display a catch of rabbits and fish.
A group of people on a beach sitting around a barbecue grill.
A beach barbecue – an established part of New Zealand culture

Pākehā culture (usually synonymous with New Zealand European culture) derives mainly from that of the European (mostly British) settlers who colonised New Zealand in the 19th century. Until about the 1950s many Pākehā saw themselves as British people, and retained strong cultural ties to "Mother England".[2] Yet there was a common perception that people born in New Zealand were likely to be physically stronger and more adaptable than people in Britain.[6] The largely rural life in early New Zealand led to the image of New Zealanders being rugged, industrious problem solvers.[5][7] Another distinctive trait of Pākehā culture has been the egalitarian tradition, as opposed to the British class system.[8] Within Pākehā culture there are also sub-cultures derived from Irish, Italian and other European groups,[9] as well as various non-ethnic subcultures.

One of the goals of Pākehā anti-racist groups of the 1980s was to enable Pākehā to see their own culture as such, rather than thinking what they did was normal and what other people did was 'ethnic' and strange.[10] Some argue that belief in the 'absence' of culture in New Zealand is a symptom of white privilege, allowing members of a dominant group to see their culture as 'normal' or 'default', rather than as a specific position of relative advantage.[11]

From the 1980s Pākehā began to further explore their distinctive traditions and to argue that New Zealanders had a culture which was neither Māori nor British. There was an interest in "Kiwiana"—items from New Zealand's heritage that are seen as representing iconic Kiwi elements, such as the pōhutukawa (New Zealand Christmas tree), pāua-shell ash-tray, Buzzy Bee, Pineapple Lumps, gumboots and jandals.[12][13]

Māori culture[edit]

Hinepare of Ngāti Kahungunu, is wearing a traditional korowai cloak adorned with a black fringe border. The two huia feathers in her hair, indicate a chiefly lineage. She also wears a pounamu hei-tiki and earring, as well as a shark tooth (mako) earring. The moko-kauae (chin-tattoo) is often based on one's role in the iwi.
A Māori sculpture carved from wood

The Māori are the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand. They originated settlers from eastern Polynesian islands, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages at some time between 1250 and 1300.[14][15] Māori settled the islands and developed a distinct culture over several hundred years. Oral history tells of a long voyage from Hawaiki (the mythical homeland in tropical Polynesia) in large ocean-going canoes (waka).[16] Māori mythology is a distinctive corpus of gods and heroes, sharing some Polynesian motifs. Significant figures are Ranginui and Papatūānuku, Māui, and Kupe.[16]

Central to many cultural events is the marae,[17] where families and tribes gather for special occasions, such as pōwhiri or tangi. Māori often call themselves "tangata whenua" (people of the land), placing particular importance on a lifestyle connected to land and sea.[18] Communal living, sharing, and living off the land are strong traditional values.

The distinct values, history, and worldview of Māori are expressed through traditional arts and skills such as haka, tā moko, waiata (music), carving, weaving, and poi. The concept of tapu (meaning taboo or sacred[19]) is also a strong force in Māori culture, applied to objects, people, or even mountains.[20]

Europeans migrated to New Zealand in increasing numbers from 1855. Māori traditionally had a penchant for war, especially between 1805 and 1842 during the Musket Wars and foreign diseases destabilized the traditional Māori society. The Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 formed the basis of the establishment of British rule in New Zealand.[21] New Zealand became partly self-governing in 1852 with the establishment of its own Parliament. The most serious conflict between Māori and European settlers was between 1863 and 1864 which resulted in land being confiscated from the defeated tribes. However Māori sold most of their land after 1870 and continued to do so until the 1980s. From 1820 Māori entered a long period of cultural and numerical decline. However their population began to increase again from the late-19th century, and a cultural revival began in the 1960s, sometimes known as the Māori Renaissance.[22]

Other ethnic cultures[edit]

Cook Island dancers at Auckland's Pasifika Festival, 2010

Ethnic communities within New Zealand retain features of their own cultures, and these have, in some areas, spread to become popular with the general population. Settler groups from many cultures added to the make-up of the country, with many groups concentrated around specific geographic areas. These include Dalmatian settlers in Northland, Danish settlers in inland Hawke's Bay, and Southern Chinese and Levantine settlers in Otago. These added to larger-scale Pākehā settlement which itself varied between English settlers (e.g., in Canterbury), Irish settlers (e.g., on the South Island West Coast), and Scottish settlers (e.g., in Otago and Southland).

From the mid-20th century on, waves of immigrants have entered the country from different ethnic backgrounds, notable Dutch and central Europeans during the 1950s, Pacific Islanders since the 1960s, and northern Chinese, Indians, and southeast Asians since the 1980s.[23] Various aspects of each culture have added to New Zealand culture; Chinese New Year is celebrated for example, especially in Auckland and Dunedin,[24] and South Auckland has strong Samoan cultural links. To celebrate its diverse Pacific cultures, the Auckland region hosts several Pacific Island festivals. Two of the major ones are Polyfest, which showcases performances of the secondary school cultural groups in the Auckland region,[25] and Pasifika, a festival that celebrates Pacific island heritage through traditional food, music, dance, and entertainment.[26]

The popular music style of Urban Pasifika also has its origins in the New Zealand Pacific Island community, and has become a major strand in New Zealand music culture. The annual Pacific Music Awards recognise the contribution to New Zealand music made by Pacific Island musicians and musical styles. Pacific island heritage is also celebrated in much of New Zealand's fine art, with notable artists such as Fatu Feu'u, Lily Laita, John Pule, Yuki Kihara, and Michel Tuffery all heavily influenced by their Pacific origins.


New Zealand has three official languages. English is the primary official language with its use unrestricted anywhere. The Māori language and New Zealand Sign Language also have official status, in certain contexts, as defined by their respective statutes.[27] Other languages are also spoken in New Zealand by some immigrant communities.

New Zealand English[edit]

New Zealand English is close to Australian English in pronunciation, but has several differences often overlooked by people from outside these countries. The most prominent differences between the New Zealand English dialect and other English dialects are the shifts in the short front vowels: the short-"i" sound (as in "kit") has centralised towards the schwa sound (the "a" in "comma" and "about"); the short-"e" sound (as in "dress") has moved towards the short-"i" sound; and the short-"a" sound (as in "trap") has moved to the short-"e" sound.[28] Some of these differences show New Zealand English to have more affinity with the English of southern England than Australian English does. Several of the differences also show the influence of Māori speech. The New Zealand accent also has some Scottish and Irish influences from the large number of settlers from those places during the 19th century. At the time of the 2013 census, English was spoken by 96.1% of the total population.[29]

Te Reo Māori[edit]

An Eastern Polynesian language, Te Reo Māori, is closely related to Tahitian and Cook Islands Māori; slightly less closely to Hawaiian and Marquesan; and more distantly to the languages of Western Polynesia, including Samoan, Niuean and Tongan. The language went into decline in terms of use following European colonisation, but since the 1970s efforts have been made to reverse this trend. These include the granting of official language status through the Māori Language Act 1987,[27] a Māori language week and a Māori Television channel. The 2013 census found that Māori was spoken by 3.7% of the population.[29]

Historically, there were distinct dialects of Te Reo, most notably a softer version associated with the southern extreme of the country, though these have been almost completely subsumed by a standardised dialect originally found around the Waikato area.

New Zealand Sign Language[edit]

New Zealand Sign Language has its roots in British Sign Language (BSL), and may be technically considered a dialect of British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Language (BANZSL). There are 62.5% similarities found in British Sign Language and NZSL, compared with 33% of NZSL signs found in American Sign Language. Like other natural sign languages, it was devised by and for Deaf people, with no linguistic connection to a spoken or written language, and it is fully capable of expressing anything a fluent signer wants to say. It uses more lip-patterns in conjunction with hand and facial movement to cue signs than BSL, reflecting New Zealand's history of oralist education of deaf people. Its vocabulary includes Māori concepts such as marae and tangi, and signs for New Zealand placenames. New Zealand Sign Language became an official language of New Zealand in April 2006.[27] About 20,000 people use New Zealand Sign Language.[30]

Other languages[edit]

According to the 2013 census, 174 languages are used in New Zealand (including sign languages). As recorded in the 2013 census, Samoan is the most widely spoken non-official language (2.2%), followed by Hindi (1.7%), "Northern Chinese" (including Mandarin, 1.3%) and French (1.2%).[29]

National symbols[edit]

The kiwi has become a New Zealand icon.

New Zealand's national symbols are influenced by natural, historical, and Māori sources. New Zealand's location in the Southern Hemisphere was symbolised by the Southern Cross constellation in both the United Tribes' Flag (the first national flag, adopted in 1834) and the current national flag of New Zealand (since 1902).[31] The silver fern is an emblem appearing on army insignia and sporting team uniforms,[31] and various silver fern flags have been proposed as an alternative national flag.[32]

Royal symbols of the monarchy of New Zealand continue to be featured in, for example, the coat of arms, the Defence Force, and the prefix His Majesty's New Zealand Ship.

The flightless kiwi has been used as a symbol of New Zealand since the early 1900s. For example, in 1905 The Westminster Gazette printed a cartoon of a kiwi and a kangaroo (representing Australia) going off to a colonial conference.[33] Today "Kiwi" is a nickname for New Zealanders.[34]

New Zealand has two national anthems of equal status,[35] "God Save the Queen" and "God Defend New Zealand" – the latter of which is often sung with alternating Māori and English verses.[36]


A modern wharenui (meeting house of a marae) exhibited at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The definition of the arts by the New Zealand government covers six areas, visual arts, craft and object art, performing arts, literature, Pacific arts and Ngā toi Māori (Māori arts).[37] Government funding is provided principally through, Creative New Zealand. Heritage New Zealand and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage are national bodies that assist with heritage preservation. Most towns and cities have museums and often art galleries, and the national museum and art gallery is Te Papa ('Our Place'), in Wellington.[38]

Kapa haka[edit]

A kapa haka performer

Kapa haka,(kapa means 'rank' or 'row') is the 'cultural dance' component of Māori performing arts. Kapa haka is an avenue for Māori people to express heritage and cultural identity through song and dance. It has undergone a renaissance, with national competitions held yearly and kapa haka used in many state occasions. The haka (often mistaken as always being a war dance or ritual challenge) has become part of wider New Zealand culture, being performed by the All Blacks as a group ritual before international games and by homesick New Zealanders of all races who want to express their New Zealandness.[39]

Visual arts[edit]

A Māori tekoteko (carved human form) originating from Te Arawa

When Settlers arrived, they brought with them Western artistic traditions. Early Pākehā art focused mainly on landscape painting, although some of the best known Pākehā artists of the 19th century (Charles Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer) specialised in Māori portraiture.[40][41] Some Māori adopted Western styles and a number of 19th-century meeting houses feature walls painted with portraits and plant designs. From the early-20th-century Āpirana Ngata and others began a programme of reviving traditional Māori arts, and many new meeting houses were built with traditional carving and tukutuku woven wall panels were built.[42]

A longstanding concern of Pākehā artists has been the creation of a distinctly New Zealand artistic style. Rita Angus and others used the landscape to try and achieve this while painters such as Gordon Walters used Māori motifs. A number of Māori artists, including Paratene Matchitt and Shane Cotton have combined Western modernism with traditional Māori art.[43]

Performing arts[edit]


New Zealand drama, both on stage and screen, has been plagued during much of its history by cost and lack of popular interest in New Zealand culture. Despite this Roger Hall and, more recently, Jacob Rajan are two playwrights to achieve considerable popular success.[44] The number of New Zealand films significantly increased during the 1970s. The highest-grossing New Zealand films are Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Boy, The World's Fastest Indian, Whale Rider, Once Were Warriors and The Piano.[45] The country's diverse scenery and compact size, plus government incentives,[46] have encouraged some producers to shoot big-budget productions in New Zealand, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies, Avatar, The Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong, Wolverine and The Last Samurai.[47]


Lorde as part of the 2014 Lollapalooza lineup

New Zealand music has been influenced by blues, jazz, country, rock and roll and hip hop, with many of these genres given a unique New Zealand interpretation.[48][49] Hip-hop is popular and there are small but thriving live music, dance party and indie music scenes. Reggae is also popular within some communities, with bands such as Herbs, Katchafire, 1814, House Of Shem, Unity Pacific all reflecting their roots, perspectives and cultural pride and heritage through their music.

A number of popular artists have gone on to achieve international success including Lorde,[50] Split Enz, Crowded House, OMC, Bic Runga, Kimbra, Ladyhawke, The Naked and Famous, Fat Freddy's Drop, Savage, Alien Weaponry, Flight of the Conchords, and Brooke Fraser.

New Zealand has a national orchestra and many regional orchestras. A number of New Zealand composers have developed international reputations. The most well-known include Douglas Lilburn,[51] John Psathas,[52] Jack Body,[53] Gillian Whitehead,[54] Jenny McLeod,[55] Gareth Farr,[56] Ross Harris,[57] and Martin Lodge.[58]


In recent decades New Zealand comics have risen in popularity and recognition. In the 1970s and 1980s Billy T James satirized race relations,[59] and McPhail & Gadsby lampooned political figures, especially Robert Muldoon. John Clarke aka Fred Dagg joked about rural life.[60] From the 1990s onwards the Naked Samoans expressed a Polynesian sense of humour to the nation, and Raybon Kan is a prominent Asian comic and columnist. The Topp Twins are an off-beat comic/country music duo,[61] and Flight of the Conchords have gained a cult following throughout the English-speaking world for their self-effacing show.[62]


New Zealand children and young adult's author Margaret Mahy, July 2011.

New Zealand's most successful early writers were expatriates such as Katherine Mansfield. From the 1950s, Frank Sargeson, Janet Frame and others had (non lucrative) writing careers while still living in New Zealand. Until about the 1980s, the main New Zealand literary form was the short story, but in recent decades novels such as Alan Duff's Once Were Warriors, Elizabeth Knox's The Vintner's Luck and others have achieved critical and popular success. Māori culture is traditionally oral rather than literate, but in recent years Māori novelists such as Duff, Witi Ihimaera and Keri Hulme and poets such as Hone Tuwhare have shown their mastery of literary forms. Austin Mitchell wrote two "Pavlova Paradise" books about New Zealand. Barry Crump was a popular author who embodied and expounded the myth of the Kiwi larrikin and multi-skilled labourer. Sam Hunt and Gary McCormick are well-known poets. James K Baxter was an eccentric but admired author. Maurice Gee is also a household name for his novels about New Zealand life.

New Zealand cartoonist David Low became famous during World War II for his political satire. Gordon Minhinnick and Les Gibbard were also witty political observers. Murray Ball drew a widely popular syndicated daily strip Footrot Flats, about farm life.


The Original All Blacks during the "haka", 1905

The sports that most New Zealanders participate in are rugby union, cricket, basketball, netball, association football (the most popular sport amongst children), rugby league and hockey.[63] Also popular are golf, tennis, cycling and a variety of water sports, particularly sailing and rowing. The country is known for its extreme sports, adventure tourism and strong mountaineering tradition, as seen in the success of notable New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary.[64]

The national rugby union team is called the All Blacks and has the best winning record of any national team in the world,[65] including being the inaugural winners of the World Cup in 1987. The style of name has been followed in naming the national team in several other sports. For instance, the nation's basketball team is known as the Tall Blacks.

Horseracing was also a popular spectator sport and became part of the "rugby, racing and beer" culture during the 1960s. Many New Zealanders either play or support their local rugby team and the All Blacks are national icons.[66] Some have argued that rugby is a national religion.[67]


Knox Church, a Presbyterian church, in Dunedin. The city was founded by Scottish Presbyterian settlers.

Pre-colonial native Māori religion was animistic.[68] One of its major features was tapu (sacred and/or forbidden), which was used to maintain the status of chiefs and tohunga (priests) and also for purposes such as conserving resources. Some of the earliest European settlers in New Zealand were Christian missionaries, mostly from the Church of England but also from Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church. From the 1830s onwards, large numbers of Māori converted.[68] Throughout the 19th century a number of movements emerged which blended traditional Māori beliefs with Christianity. These included Pai Mārire, Ringatū, and in the early-20th century, Rātana. They typically centred on a prophet-leader. These churches continue to attract a substantial following; according to the 2013 census, 50,565 people are Rātana believers, and another 16,419 are Ringatū. 1,689 people stated that they followed Māori religion.[69] Many Māori members of mainstream churches, and those with no particular religion, continue to believe in tapu, particularly where the dead are concerned, although not to the same extent as their ancestors.

Percentages of people reporting affiliation with Christianity at the 2001, 2006 and 2013 censuses; there has been a steady decrease over twelve years.

Pākehā have become steadily less religious over the course of the 20th century. In the 1920s there was still a reasonably high level of sectarianism and anti-Catholic prejudice, but this has since died down and the major churches generally co-operate with each other. The churches and religious lobby groups have little political influence where Pākehā are concerned. The vast majority of religious Pākehā are Christian, but a small number follow non-Christian religions, particularly Buddhism.[citation needed] The Scottish (Presbyterian) English (Anglican) division can still be seen in the religious distribution of some cities and suburbs. It has also been evidenced that New Zealand's lack of religion correlates with income and income correlates with urban location; in Auckland, for example, the richest suburbs are the least religious.[70] A wider range of immigrant groups in recent decades has contributed to the growth of minority religions.[71] Newer immigrants are more religious and more diverse than previous groups

According to the 2013 census, the number of people who affiliated with a Christian denomination (including Māori Christian) decreased to 1,906,398 (48.9% of all people who stated their religious affiliation), down from 2,082,942 (55.6%) in 2006.[69] Affiliation to non-Christian religions has increased since the 2006 census. In 2013, the number of Hindus numbered 88,919, Buddhists 58,404, Muslims 46,149, and Sikhs 19,191. The number and proportion of people indicating they had no religion increased between 2006 and 2013.[69] In 2013, 1,635,345 New Zealanders (41.9%) reported they had no religion.[69]

Class in New Zealand[edit]

The 'classless society'[edit]

Until about the 1980s it was often claimed that New Zealand was a 'classless society'.[72] The evidence for this was the relatively small range of wealth (that is, the wealthiest did not earn hugely more than the poorest earners), lack of deference to authority figures, high levels of class mobility, a high standard of working class living compared to Britain, progressive labour laws which protected workers and encouraged unionism, state housing, and a welfare state which was developed in New Zealand before most other countries.

New Zealanders' egalitarianism has been criticised as discouraging and denigrating ambition and individual achievement and success. New Zealanders tend to value modesty and distrust those who talk about their own merits. They especially dislike anyone who seems to consider themselves better than others even if the person in question is demonstrably more talented or successful than others. This attitude can manifest itself in the tall poppy syndrome or crab mentality, which refer to 'cutting down' of those thought to have risen above the general mass of people.[73][74]

It has been argued that in New Zealand ethnicity takes the place of class, with Māori and other Polynesians earning less, having a lower standard of living and less education, and working in lower status jobs than Pākehā.[75]

New Zealand's claims to be a classless society were dealt a fatal blow in the 1980s and 1990s by the economic reforms of the fourth Labour government and its successor, the fourth National government. A cultural shift also took place due to the economic and social impact of international capital, commerce and advertising. New Zealanders were exposed to a previously unknown array of consumer goods and franchises. Aided by overseas programming, commercial radio and TV stations enjoyed rapid growth. Local manufacturing suffered from cheap imports, with many jobs lost. These reforms led to a dramatic increase in the gap between the richest and poorest New Zealanders, and an increase in the numbers living in poverty.[76] Recent appreciation of real estate values increased the wealth of a generation of landowners while making housing unaffordable for many. Some are concerned that a New Zealand property bubble may burst, potentially wiping out considerable wealth.


It is very common for New Zealanders to travel or live overseas for extended periods of time, often on working holidays. These are usually referred to as the 'OE' or 'overseas experience', and are most commonly taken by people in their 20s.[77][78] The three most common destinations are Australia, Great Britain and mainland Europe, although recently trips to Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan to teach English have become increasingly popular. The east coast of Australia and London both have sizeable expatriate New Zealand communities.

The OE to Europe is usually self-funded, and tends to occur a few years after university graduation, when the traveller has saved up enough for airfares and living expenses. The length of the visit can range from a few months to the remainder of the visitor's life; since many New Zealanders have British ancestry or dual citizenship (sometimes as a result of their parents' OE), the restrictions on working in Britain do not apply to a substantial percentage of them.[78]

Working holidays in Asia are more likely to occur shortly after graduation, and many agencies specifically target graduates for these trips. Because Australia is relatively close to New Zealand and has no restrictions on New Zealanders working there, the New Zealanders working in Australia are more diverse than those in other countries, with a significantly higher proportion of Māori and working-class people.

Since the signing of the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement in 1973, New Zealanders have had the right to live and work in Australia on equal terms with Australian citizens. Until the 1970s New Zealanders had similar rights in relation to Britain. Changes to British immigration law in this period required New Zealanders to obtain visas to work in Britain or live there for extended periods, unless they had recent British ancestry.

New Zealand has a number of reciprocal working holiday agreements, allowing people in their 20s to live and work overseas, usually for up to a year. Such agreements are in place with: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.[79]

National stereotypes[edit]

The Kiwi male[edit]

The stereotypical New Zealand male is essentially a pioneer type: he is perceived to be rural, strong, unemotional, democratic, has little time for high culture, good with animals (particularly horses) and machines, and is able to turn his hand to nearly anything. This type of man is often presumed to be a unique product of New Zealand's colonial period but he shares many similarities with the stereotypical American frontiersman and Australian bushman. New Zealand men are supposed to still have many of these qualities, even though most New Zealanders have lived in urban areas since the late-19th century. This has not prevented New Zealanders seeing themselves (and being seen) as essentially country people and good at the tasks which country life requires.[80]

The hard man: New Zealand men have often been stereotyped as strong, unemotional and prone to violence.[81] For many years this was seen as a good thing, and was best embodied by All Black Colin Meads. Voted 'New Zealand player of the century' by New Zealand Rugby Monthly magazine, Meads was the second All Black to be sent off the field, and once played a match with a broken arm. Although he was known to assault other players during games, this was generally approved of as 'enforcement' of the 'spirit of the game'.[82] He was also a supporter of sporting contact with apartheid South Africa. In recent decades the macho attitude has been both criticised and reviled as dangerous both to men who embody it and those around them. It has been blamed for New Zealand's culture of heavy drinking and its high male suicide rate.[83] However it still has its supporters, with some commentators claiming that the more recent All Blacks do not have enough 'mongrel'.[84]


Social conservatism and progressiveness[edit]

New Zealand social policy has tended to oscillate between social progressiveness and conservatism. Social reforms pioneered by New Zealand include women's suffrage, the welfare state, and respect for indigenous peoples (through the Treaty of Waitangi and the Waitangi Tribunal). Having led the (non-communist) world in economic regulation from the 1930s, in the 1980s and 1990s the reforms of the Labour Government led the world in economic de-regulation. New Zealand was the first country to have an openly transgender mayor, and later member of parliament, Georgina Beyer. Same-sex marriage has been legal in New Zealand since 19 August 2013.[85]

In contrast to this, New Zealand has a history of some very conservative social policies. Most notably, from World War One until 1967 pubs were required by law to close at 6pm.[86] Until the 1980s most shops were banned from opening on weekends, and until 1999 alcoholic beverages could not be sold on Sundays, known as blue law.

In a rare occurrence, the 1981 Springbok Tour saw the two extremes very publicly clash with each other on a nationwide scale.[87]

Attitudes to authority[edit]

In general, New Zealanders have faith in their democracy. New Zealand is perceived to have very low levels of corruption[88] although some question whether those perceptions are entirely warranted.[89] Turnout for parliamentary general elections is typically above 80%, which is very high by international standards and occurs despite the absence of any law requiring citizens to vote. However local government elections have much lower turnout figures, with an average of 53% in 2007.[90]

New Zealanders, both those of Pākehā and Māori roots, have been described as an individualistic people, who take intrusion very personally, especially when it occurs onto private land (but also sometimes in a wider sense). According to psychologists, this is rooted respectively in the 'frontier' image of the European settler culture, but also mirrored amongst the Māori, for whom land holds a lot of spiritual value in addition to its commercial use.[91]

Attitudes to multiculturalism[edit]

New Zealand has for most of its modern history been an isolated bicultural society. In recent decades an increasing number of immigrants has changed the demographic spectra. In the larger cities this change has occurred suddenly and dramatically. There has been an increasing awareness of multiculturalism in New Zealand in all areas of society and also in politics. New Zealand's race relations has been a controversial topic in recent times. The political party New Zealand First has been associated with an anti-immigration policy. The Office of the Race Relations Conciliator was established by the Race Relations Act in 1971[92] for the purposes of "promoting positive race relations and addressing complaints of discrimination on grounds of race, colour, and ethnic or national origin", and was merged with the Human Rights Commission in January 2002.[93]


Māori cuisine[edit]

Putting down a hāngi (earth oven)

Māori cuisine was historically derived from that of tropical Polynesia, adapted for New Zealand's colder climate. Key ingredients included kūmara (sweet potato), fern root, taro, birds and fish. Food was cooked in hāngi (earth ovens) and roasted, and in geothermal areas was boiled or steamed using natural hot springs and pools. Various means of preserving birds and other foods were also employed. Before the arrival of European settlers, Māori did not drink alcoholic beverages.[94]

Following the arrival of British settlers, the Māori adopted many of their foods, especially pork and potatoes, the latter of which transformed the Māori agricultural economy. Many traditional food sources became scarce as introduced predators dramatically reduced bird populations, and forests were cleared for farming and timber. Traditional seafoods such as toheroa and whitebait were over-harvested. Present day Māori cuisine is a mixture of Māori tradition, 19th century British cookery, and contemporary dishes. In everyday life the two foods of Māori origin are "the boil up" (meat and vegetables boild in a broth and sometimes thickened with flour), and the hāngi which is associated with special occasions.[95]

Pākehā cuisine[edit]

Pavlova, a popular New Zealand dessert, garnished with cream and strawberries.

Since the majority of Pākehā are of British descent, Pākehā cuisine is heavily influenced by British cuisine. During the 19th century, a major difference between British and New Zealand cuisine was that meat was more readily available to all social classes in New Zealand. A meat-rich remains a part of Pākehā culture, although red meat consumption has dropped in the last few decades. Savoury pies, which may be filled with meat or fish, sausage rolls, and fish and chips are popular, as are roasts. Pākehā are also fond of sweet foods such as biscuits, cakes, slices and pavlova.

In recent decades international cuisine, including Chinese and Indian, has become popular, and as in many other countries 'foodie' culture has emerged. New Zealand chefs such as Peter Gordon played a major part in the creation of fusion cuisine.[citation needed]

Café culture has grown to be a major element of New Zealand cuisine. Cafés and a high standard of espresso coffee making have become common throughout the country.[96]

Other cuisines[edit]

New Zealanders increasingly come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and many immigrants to New Zealand have tried to reproduce their native cuisines or national dishes in New Zealand. International restaurants have served as community meeting places and have also given other New Zealanders a chance to try different cuisines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clark, Ross (1994). "Moriori and Māori: The Linguistic Evidence". In Sutton, Douglas (ed.). The Origins of the First New Zealanders. Auckland: Auckland University Press. pp. 123–135.
  2. ^ a b Laugesen, Ruth (11–17 July 2009). "Past tense". New Zealand Listener. Vol. 219, no. 3609. Archived from the original on 8 August 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  3. ^ "The Spirit of ANZAC". ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee. 26 November 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Government and nation – National holidays". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  5. ^ a b Kennedy 2007, p. 400.
  6. ^ Phillips, Jock (May 2015). "The New Zealanders". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  7. ^ Phillips 1987.
  8. ^ Easton, Brian (2016). Not In Narrow Seas: A Political Economy of New Zealand's History. Otago: Otago University Press.
  9. ^ Phillips, Jock (August 2015). "History of immigration". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  10. ^ Miranda Johnson (2005), '"The Land of the Wrong White Cloud": Anti-Racist Organizations and Pakeha Identity Politics in the 1970s', New Zealand Journal of History, 39, 2, pp.137–57.
  11. ^ Tim McCreanor (2005), '"Sticks and Stones may break my bones. ..": Talking Pakeha Identities', in James H. Liu, Tim McCreanor, Tracey McIntosh and Teresia Teaiwa, eds, New Zealand Identities: Departures and Destinations, p.53.
  12. ^ "Kiwiana". Tourism New Zealand. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  13. ^ Turner, Anna (24 October 2012). "Study up, bro: Kiwiana course to explore our culture". Stuff. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  14. ^ Minahan, James (2012). Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the Pacific: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 218. ISBN 9781598846591.
  15. ^ Wilson, John (February 2005). "History – Māori arrival and settlement". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  16. ^ a b Royal, Te Ahukaramū Charles (February 2005). "First peoples in Māori tradition". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  17. ^ Keane, Basil (September 2013). "Marae protocol – te kawa o te marae". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  18. ^ Royal, Te Ahukaramū Charles (September 2007). "Papatūānuku – the land – Whenua – the placenta". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Entries for TAPU [OC] Prohibited, under ritual restriction, taboo". Polynesian Lexicon Project Online. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  20. ^ Royal, Te Ahukaramū Charles (September 2007). "Te Ao Mārama – the natural world – Mana, tapu and mauri". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  21. ^ Buick, T. Lindsay (2011). The Treaty of Waitangi: How New Zealand Became a British Colony. Cambridge University Press. p. 382. ISBN 9781108039963.
  22. ^ Royal, Te Ahukaramū Charles (February 2005). "Māori – Urbanisation and renaissance". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  23. ^ "History of immigration". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 8 February 2005. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Auckland celebrates Chinese New Year". Newshub. Archived from the original on 23 August 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Polyfest NCEA credits / Pasifika Education Plan / Home – Pasifika". Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI). Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  26. ^ "Thousands turn out for Pasifika Festival". Radio New Zealand. 25 March 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  27. ^ a b c "Government and nation – Official languages". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  28. ^ * Bauer, Laurie; Warren, Paul; Bardsley, Dianne; Kennedy, Marianna; Major, George (2007), "New Zealand English", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 37 (1): 97–102, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002830
  29. ^ a b c "2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity – Languages spoken". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  30. ^ "New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Studies". Victoria University of Wellington. 25 August 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  31. ^ a b Wilson, John (September 2016). "Nation and government – Nationhood and identity". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  32. ^ Jones, Anna (24 March 2016). "The tangled tale of New Zealand's flag debate". BBC News. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  33. ^ "First use of kiwi as unofficial national symbol?". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 27 July 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  34. ^ "Kiwi". New Zealand Department of Conservation. Retrieved 4 November 2021. New Zealanders have been called 'Kiwis' since the nickname was bestowed by Australian soldiers in the First World War.
  35. ^ "National Anthems - Ministry for Culture & Heritage". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 5 January 2020.
  36. ^ "Government and nation – National anthems". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  37. ^ New Zealanders and the arts: Attitudes, attendance and participation in 2014 (PDF), ARTS COUNCIL OF NEW ZEALAND TOI AOTEAROA, 2014
  38. ^ Robinson, Denis; Ingold, Gaye (2011). Art Galleries to Visit in New Zealand: Over 130 Outstanding Art Collections Open to the Public. New Holland. ISBN 978-1-86966-340-7.
  39. ^ "History of the All Black haka". Tourism New Zealand Media. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  40. ^ Keith, Hamish (2007). The Big Picture: A history of New Zealand art from 1642. pp. 11–16. ISBN 978-1-86962-132-2.
  41. ^ "Goldie & Lindauer: Approaching Portraiture". Auckland Art Gallery. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  42. ^ Sissons, Jeffrey (1998). "The Traditionalisation of the Maori Meeting House". Oceania. 69 (1): 36–46. doi:10.1002/j.1834-4461.1998.tb02693.x. ISSN 0029-8077. JSTOR 40331659. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  43. ^ "Whiti te ra". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  44. ^ "Jacob Rajan". The Arts Foundation. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  45. ^ "Top 10 Highest Grossing New Zealand Movies Ever". May 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  46. ^ Cieply, Michael; Rose, Jeremy (October 2010). "New Zealand Bends and 'Hobbit' Stays". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  47. ^ "Production Guide: Locations". Film New Zealand. Archived from the original on 7 November 2010. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  48. ^ Swarbrick, Nancy (June 2010). "Creative life – Music". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  49. ^ Southgate, William (September 1977). "Current Developments in New Zealand music". Composers Association of New Zealand Newsletter: 25–27.
  50. ^ "Lorde's 'Royals' Reigns On Hot 100 for Eighth Week". Billboard.
  51. ^ "Story: Lilburn, Douglas Gordon".
  52. ^ "John Psathas composer profile".
  53. ^ "Jack Body composer profile".
  54. ^ "Gillian Whitehead composer profile".
  55. ^ "Jenny McLeod composer profile".
  56. ^ > "Gareth Farr composer profile".
  57. ^ > "Ross Harris composer profile".
  58. ^ > "Martin Lodge composer profile".
  59. ^ Billy T. James. In: European ideas about Māori. Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 4 August 2021. The Māori comedian Billy T. James cleverly drew on old racist stereotypes about Māori, such as the Māori who was confused by the English language. By laughing at the stereotypes James helped to defuse them.
  60. ^ Davis, Jessica Milner (17 November 2017). Satire and Politics: The Interplay of Heritage and Practice. Springer. p. 22. ISBN 978-3-319-56774-7. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  61. ^ "The Topp Twins — an exhibition for New Zealand". National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  62. ^ "Conchords Take Flight on Prime | Scoop News". 16 August 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  63. ^ "Sports & Recreation in New Zealand". New Zealand Now. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  64. ^ "World mourns Sir Edmund Hillary". The Age. Melbourne. 11 January 2008.
  65. ^ "The All Blacks guide to being successful (off the field)". 14 November 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  66. ^ "Sad our icon even has a price". New Zealand Herald.
  67. ^ "Rugby, racing and beer – week to remember for Whitelock family". The New Zealand Herald. 10 February 2012.
  68. ^ a b Wagstrom, Thor (2005). "Broken Tongues and Foreign Hearts". In Brock, Peggy (ed.). Indigenous Peoples and Religious Change. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 71 and 73. ISBN 978-90-04-13899-5.
  69. ^ a b c d "2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity". Statistics New Zealand.
  70. ^ Tan, Harkanwal Singh and Lincoln (13 May 2015). "God and money: Interactive map shows rich suburbs have most atheists". The New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  71. ^ Morris, Paul (May 2011). "Diverse religions". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  72. ^ Sinclair, Keith (1969), A History of New Zealand, 2nd edn, p.285.
  73. ^ Kennedy 2007, p. 399.
  74. ^ "Does NZ still cut down tall poppies?" Archived 30 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, 18 March 2013, Adrien Taylor,
  75. ^ Macpherson 1977, p. 99–112.
  76. ^ Tim Hazledine (1998) Taking New Zealand Seriously: The Economics of Decency ISBN 1-86950-283-3
  77. ^ Gray, Alison (April 2018). "Overseas experience". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  78. ^ a b "Unpacking essence of the Kiwi 'Overseas Experience'" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 April 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
  79. ^ NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website: Archived 9 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  80. ^ Phillips 1987, pp. 1–42.
  81. ^ Phillips 1987, pp. 81–130.
  82. ^ Colin Meads at
  83. ^ Phillips 1987, pp. 261–89.
  84. ^ Long, David (12 July 2009). "All Blacks need more mongrel". Sunday News. Fairfax. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  85. ^ Wade, Amelia; Theunissen, Matthew; Tapaleao, Vaimoana (19 August 2013). "Same-sex couples celebrate wedded bliss". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  86. ^ "The 'six o'clock swill' – Sports and leisure – Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand". Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  87. ^ "Impact – 1981 Springbok tour – NZHistory, New Zealand history online". Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  88. ^ Transparency International Website Rankings for 2008 Archived 11 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  89. ^ "How corruption-free is New Zealand?". Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  90. ^ "Local Government Statistical Overview – Membership, Elections and Governance". Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  91. ^ Davison, Isaac (30 January 2010). "NZ independence is deeply rooted". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  92. ^ "Background — Ministry of Justice, New Zealand". Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  93. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  94. ^ Phillips, Jock (April 2016). "Alcohol". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 4 November 2021. Traditionally Māori did not drink alcohol, which was introduced by European settlers.
  95. ^ Maori hangi: Guide to how to make a Hangi.
  96. ^ "New Zealand's dedicated coffee culture". Tourism New Zealand. Retrieved 9 February 2012.


  • Jones, Lawrence (1998). The Novel., in Terry Sturm, ed., The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English
  • Kennedy, Jeffrey (2007). "Leadership and Culture in New Zealand". In Chhokar, Jagdeep; Brodbeck, Felix; House, Robert (eds.). Culture and Leadership Across the World: The GLOBE Book of In-Depth Studies of 25 Societies. United States: Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-8058-5997-3.
  • Macpherson, Cluny (1977). Polynesians in New Zealand: An Emerging Eth-Class?., in David Pitt, ed., Social Class in New Zealand
  • Phillips, Jock (1987). A Man's Country? The Image of the Pakeha Male: A History. Auckland: Penguin Books.

External links[edit]