Exploring New Zealand Culture

New Zealand’s two islands are divided by Cook Strait. The North Island boasts volcanoes, hot springs, mud pools, geysers, and beautiful beaches, while the South Island has rugged Alpine mountains, glaciers, and access to activities like swimming with dolphins and whale-watching. The Lord of the Rings film trilogy was filmed in New Zealand and showcases the country’s beautiful landscape. Kiwis pass their days with plenty of time outdoors having family barbecues, hiking to the nearest beach, or playing rugby.

New Zealand culture is heavily influenced by the Māori people, the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand. Māori people have been in New Zealand for over 800 years and make up about 15% of the population. Among the many nationalities living in New Zealand are a very large population of Polynesian people from the Pacific Islands, plus many from Asia and other countries throughout the world.

Study abroad in New Zealand Host a Kiwi student in the U.S.

People and Community in New Zealand

People in New Zealand

The way of life in New Zealand culture is generally relaxed and informal. Overall, New Zealanders, (also known as Kiwis), are self-reliant, practical people. It is not uncommon for both parents to work outside the home. Children and parents share the housework. Almost all families have pets living in the house.

The average family in New Zealand has two children. Most families are a mixture of European, Māori, Asian or Polynesian descent. Kiwis are not influenced by Western culture alone. Fashion, jewelry, decorations and crafts reach deep into the Māori traditions. Māori are preserving their unique culture that contributes to New Zealand culture as a whole.

Among Polynesians, extended family connections are important. In some families, multiple generations live together in one house. Polynesian women traditionally play strong roles in their communities. For Māori, the marae (a sacred open space used for religious and social gatherings) is important for family bonding.

New Zealand Language and Communication Styles

 Maori traditional performance in New Zealand

English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand.

Food in New Zealand

Food in New Zealand

Since there are so many farms in New Zealand, fresh meat, dairy, and produce are readily available. Fruits such as apples, kiwis, bananas, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, strawberries, and tomatoes are abundant. New Zealanders love fish and chips and pot roast, but Asian-style curries and stir-fries are also very popular. There is also a distinct Japanese influence in some of the cuisine. On special occasions, some people experience a traditional Māori feast, called a hangi, which is similar to a Hawaiian luau. Vegemite, peanut butter, honey, and jam are used as bread spreads. New Zealanders consider their dairy products as among the best in the world.

Explore the Programs Available in New Zealand