New Zealand Religion
New Zealand is a truly multicultural society and one which allows freedom of expression. New Zealand's diverse and rich cultural tapestry ensure that practically all the major religions of the world are represented in New Zealand. International students who are considering staying with a local family can be rest assured that their religious beliefs will be respected.
Many university campuses have religious clubs and bodies that encourage inter-faith dialogue and understanding. This is a good way to network with fellow international students from different religious backgrounds who are studying far away from home.
Religion New Zealand
Ironically, New Zealand is a largely secular nation with many religious (especially Christian) influences in everyday life. According to the 2006 census, only 10% of the nation is actively Christian, but they celebrate all holidays on the Christian calendar, offer prayer and religious education in schools (including public schools) and hire chaplains at all universities. Even their national anthem, God Defend New Zealand, has a strong Christian theme.
Despite the largely agnostic population, most Kiwi’s have a ‘live and let live’ attitude to religion. Laws are in place to ensure that no one is discriminated or persecuted due to their religious background. Nearly all New Zealand cities have churches, while mosques, synagogues and other places of worship can be found in larger towns.
New Zealanders generally go to church on Christmas Eve and over Easter. Most cities will celebrate the religious aspect of these holidays. If you are feeling disconnected from your faith, your university chaplain can put you in touch with like-minded people and help you find avenues to celebrate your faith, regardless of what it is.
Interestingly, 20 000 pranksters listed their religion as Jedi in the 2006 census. If Jedi had been an acceptable response, it would have followed Christianity as one of the largest churches in New Zealand.