Saturday, 1 June 2019

The Culture Of New Zealand

The predominantly Western culture of New Zealand is also influenced by the indigenous cultures of the ethnic groups inhabiting the country.

The island of New Zealand is located in the southwestern region of the Pacific Ocean with proximity to Australia.

New Zealand is a culturally diverse nation with a majorly western culture with Māori influences. The culture of New Zealand draws its influence from the cultures of the inhabitants of the country over the centuries. Before the 1800s, the Māori pre-colonial culture was dominant in the Island. The Māori culture developed from Polynesian influences of their traditional lands and developed into unique culture under the influence of their surroundings. The migration of the Europeans into New Zealand in the 1800s led to the development of new cultures in New Zealand. These Europeans carried with them traditions and practices of their native lands mainly English. Cultural interactions among the Europeans and the Māori people created a set of new cultural practices both for the Māori and for the Europeans as each borrowed some practices including religion, dress, music, and language. These interactions between the indigenous Māori and the European settlers gave rise to the Pakeha people. Currently, New Zealand focuses on promoting her cultural heritage especially the Māori culture to attract worldwide tourists.

7. Social Beliefs And Customs

For a long time, the Society of New Zealand was founded on the principles of equality and classlessness evidenced by the narrow gap between the rich and the poor. Although the earlier culture of the Māori displayed social stratification, the classes relatively disappeared with influence and interaction with other cultures. New Zealanders, also called Kiwis, are a social people who believe in basic politeness and hospitality to all. They value aspects such as personal distance during communication, greeting, and have defined expectations on showing affection in public. For instance, during communication, too much eye contact and closeness translate to the invasion of personal space. Greetings are also an important part of the social fabric of New Zealand with parties acknowledging each other with a simple “good day!.”

6. Cuisine

The cuisine of the Māori people includes sweet potatoes, fern roots, birds, and fish prepared into various meals with earthen ovens, roasting and steaming over natural hot springs and pools. The influences of the European culinary cultures on the Māori led to the adoption of pork and potatoes in the Māori diet. The Pakeha people brought their native culinary tradition into New Zealand including their high consumption of red meat and sweet foods. The evolution of culinary art from influences of local and international cultures has led to the emergence of new cuisines and the recreation of former ones. Food tourism has also grown with more tourists partaking in trying new diets and more restaurants incorporating a variety of local and ethnic foods into their menus. Increased awareness on healthy eating has also played a significant role in the production and preparation of food in the country with most people opting for healthier choices.

5. Clothing

Clothing is an essential part of the identity of new Zealanders. While most of the dressing style is majorly from western influences, there exist subtle influences of other cultures in the dress and style of clothing. Both the Māori and the Pakeha borrowed from each other dressing styles, pattern designs on fabrics as well as the types of clothes worn. The Māori wear their traditional clothing mainly during cultural festivals although their daily wear is primarily casual and western in style. Working persons often dress in formal clothing, especially those in white-collar jobs and shift to casual wear such as shorts when not working.

4. Music And Dance -

Music and dance are some of the aspects that are central to any culture. The music and dance in the New Zealandic culture draw its influences from genres such as jazz, pop, hip-hop, rock, and roll as well as the traditional Māori music. However, the music has a unique New Zealand twist from the incorporation of Māori chanting tunes, dances and musical instruments. Traditional Māori music featured monotonal and harmonic chanting often played by a group of singers. Later on, the music developed through the adoption of European styles and instruments leading to the rise of the contemporary Māori music. Dances of New Zealand descend from influences of the Pacific, Asian, and European cultures. Cultural dances often accompany festivals and music. The most famous dance is the Pacific dance, a part of the Pasifika festival. The traditional Māori dance, the Haka, has also gained prominence in New Zealand. Other dances in New Zealand include the Irish dance, Morris dance, Legong, Chinese lion and dragon dances, and Bharata Natyam.

3. Literature And Arts

The traditional Māori literature is primarily oral. During the pre-European era, oral traditions were the common method of transmission of their cultural traditions, beliefs, and practices. The major literature developed in New Zealand for a long time showed the dominance of the European influence. Very few Māori engaged in literary production with the trend changing only recently. The Māori flourished in the performance arts such as traditional dances and songs. New Zealand is home to numerous museums and galleries that contain relics of the Māori arts including sculptures, woven items, and carvings made from various materials such as wood. Some individuals, organizations and the government provide funds towards the promotion and revival of traditional arts.

2. Religions And Festivals

Before the coming of the European, the polytheistic Māori religion was the common practice. With the introduction of Christianity, some of the Māori people converted to Christianity. Other religions sects such as the Ringatu and Ratana have retained some of their traditional religious practices while adopting the Christian faith. Since the 19th century, Christianity has risen to the prominence of being the most popular religion in the country. The main Christian groups in New Zealand are Roman Catholics with a following of about 12% followed by Anglican (11.79%) and Presbyterian (8.47%). Other Christian denominations make up 15.14% of the country's population. Other religious groups in New Zealand include Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims. About 41.92% of the populations subscribes to no religion. Festivals in New Zealand exhibit influences of both traditional and modern cultures. The two most recognized New Zealand native festivals include ANZAC and Waitangi Day. Religious festivals include birth, marriage, and death, which include foods, drinks, songs, and dance.

1. Sports

Sports are important in the culture of New Zealand. The commonly played games include rugby, cricket, football, netball, golf, basketball, hockey, tennis, and water sports such as sailing and surfing. New Zealand also utilizes its winter season for sporting activities such as skiing and snowboarding. New Zealand participates in both local and international competitions. Athletic activities in New Zealand are also vital, especially track and field events including racing, boxing, and cycling. Most of the sporting activities developed from influences of the British and Western cultures and had grown from recreation activities to competitive and professional ones. New Zealand also prides itself for the invention of bungee jumping and zorbing- both of which are tourist attractions of New Zealand.

By Joyce Chepkemoi

•culled from

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