Culture New Zealand

Live in New Zealand

New Zealanders, or Kiwi’s as they are sometimes colloquially referred to (a reference to their famous native kiwi bird) are warm, generous people who are famous for their hospitality.  They are friendly and informal, and use first names in nearly all circumstances, including business.  Your university lecturers will use their first names, although more prominent university officers, such as the chancellor and vice-chancellor, should be addressed in a more official capacity.

New Zealand has a rich multi-cultural atmosphere that comes as a result of centuries of accepting migrants from all over the world.  The British first colonised New Zealand in the mid nineteenth century and since then, thousands of migrants have come to call New Zealand home.  This cultural melting pot is evident in the food, fashion, art and music in New Zealand today.

And then there’s New Zealand’s first and most important migrants, their indigenous Maori people.  The Maori people, who are also known as tangata whenua, or ‘people of the land’ are believed to have ‘migrated’ to New Zealand around 1300AD from various parts of Polynesia.  New Zealand parliament signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, which recognised the Maori’s land rights.

New Zealand’s indigenous culture is deep rooted and evident everywhere.  Many arms of the government are dedicated to Maori rights and the Maori language is one of the official languages of New Zealand’s – your universities motto will probably be in Maori.  In a 2006 census, 1 in 7 New Zealanders identified themselves as Maori.

New Zealand has laws in place to prevent discrimination.  If you feel you are being discriminated against due to your race, sex or gender, you should speak to a university representative. 

Maori Culture

New Zealand’s indigenous people are the Maori, a race descendent from Polynesia who has inhabited the country for an estimate 700 years.  New Zealand has a proud and prevalent indigenous culture that is evident in everyday life.  You may notice that your universities motto is in the Maori language – this is just one example of the fusion of Maori and Pakeha (white people) cultures that comprises Kiwi society.

The most well known Maori tradition carried out by Pakeha’s today is the haka.  The haka is a group dance performed to intimidate rivals and is often used by the New Zealand football team just before a game.  In official ceremonies, the New Zealand national anthem, God Defend New Zealand, is often sung in Maori and English.  Pakeha artists and authors often use Maori themes and motifs when producing their works.  Other examples of the Maori culture can be found in song, dance, art, food and many other things in New Zealand culture.

The Maori culture has a long and fascinating history.  If you have some spare time, it would be worth your while undertaking a Maori studies course offered at many universities and polytechnics around the nation.  At the very least, you should pick up some of the language – Kiwi’s frequently use Maori words and phrases in every day conversation.

New Zealand’s culture is a harmonious blend of the native Maori and the adopted Western cultures.  To truly experience Kiwi culture, one must immerse themselves in its indigenous culture.  Further exploration of the indigenous Maori culture is an interesting and rewarding experience.

© 2017 Go to New Zealand Agency

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