New Zealand

New Zealand traditions and customs

What traditions and customs are there in New Zealand?

Overview of New Zealand customs and traditions.


Food in daily life

Before 1975, the diet was based on meat, potatoes, seasonal temperate vegetables (cabbage, peas, beans, carrots, spinach, cauliflower, and broccoli), bread, seasonal fruits, dairy products, and fish. Chicken was a restaurant treat, and favorite fast food was meatloaf.

Drinks were tea and beer. Since 1975, the kitchen has opened up to include a range of tropical and sub-tropical fruits, vegetables and spices. It has taken advantage of its Mediterranean climate to produce wine. Foods are readily available in supermarkets. There are ubiquitous fast food restaurants.

However, there is no New Zealand cuisine. Christmas features turkey or ham, followed by Christmas pudding. The Sunday roast is still served in the British tradition.

Maori cuisine is based on shellfish, lamb (young petrels), pork or wild fowl, fat lamb, and kumara. The cooking method is the earthen oven (“hangi”), in which the stones are heated with fire, the fire is turned off so that the stones tarnish, and a large sealed basket containing the food is buried on top of the stones. and let it cook for several hours.

When Maori gather in maras, men and women help prepare the food; the men dig the hole, place the stones, and bury and remove the food.

Food customs on ceremonial occasions

The Piping Ceremony at the Haggis is observed in the Burns Clubs. Otherwise hot rolls are available at Easter.


Except in Muslim, Hindu, and some Chinese groups, marriages are by mutual choice. The marriage can be conducted by a celebrant, a priest of the Church or a vicar. Parental consent is required if the couple is under 20 years of age.

De facto relationships are officially recognized for the purposes of inheritance and benefits. In 1996, 43 percent of men and 41 percent of women over the age of 15 were married.

The only cause for divorce is irreconcilable rupture, indicated by the two parties living apart for two years. Traditional weddings are still in evidence, but more people plan their own, and minorities follow their traditional ways.


The sacred feature of the Maori is the head, so touching it is avoided. In the tangle, hongi (touching noses) is the accepted greeting. Otherwise, the handshake, hug, and kiss on the cheek are used, depending on the degree of intimacy.

Verbal greetings include “Hi,” “How are you?” “Today” and, especially, in North Island, Kia Ora (“Good health”, “Are you well?”). Men enjoy “companionship,” which involves close contact, but otherwise contact distance is arm’s length.

Behavior in public places is orderly and good humor is expected. Depending on the date of arrival in the country, immigrants and refugees maintain their own customs but gradually adapt, especially at school.


Religious beliefs

Sixteen religious sects are represented – with the Anglican Church (18.4 percent) the largest, followed by Catholic (13.8 percent) and Presbyterian (13.4 percent). Twenty-six percent of the people have no religious affiliation. The Pentecostal, Buddhist and Muslim religions have had the greatest growth rate.

Religious professionals

Archbishops, bishops, priests, presbyters, rabbis, imams, mullahs, elders and pastors hold positions in the New Zealand branches of world churches. There is a Maori church (Ratana), and Maoridom makes extensive use of the sacred-secular healing and counseling powers of the tohunga, a specialist in medicine and spiritual beliefs.

Rituals and sacred places

The rites of the Christian calendar are observed. Cathedrals are present in all major cities, and many rural areas maintain small wooden parish churches. Cemeteries are controlled by local bodies, except Maori cemeteries. Pakeha’s 19th and early 20th century statues of public figures and war memorials are universal.

His disfigurement has become a sign of Maori protest. Waitangi has become a national monument, as has One Tree Hill in Auckland, marking significant events in the evolution of early Maori-European relations. Birthdays, anniversaries and deaths can be commemorated privately or publicly.

Death and the afterlife

If embalming does not take place, burial occurs within a day or two after death. Otherwise, funeral homes embalm and display the body. Funeral services may be held in churches or funeral homes. A Maori funeral (“tangi”) takes place in the maras and is a mix of party and grief.

Christians believe in a heaven for the afterlife (and a hell if it is Fundamentalist). Maori ancestors live after death in ancestral lands and are the reference point for political and economic life as well as spiritual life.

Secular celebrations

It celebrates the New Year, Waitangi Day, a special assembly of public dignitaries in Waitangi, the queen’s birthday and the anniversary of a province.

The arts and humanities

Arts support

Profits from the state lottery are used by Creative New Zealand to provide funding for the arts. Individual and corporate trusts also support the arts and sports.


The art of oratory is highly valued among the Maori, who speak extemporaneously but use traditional formulas and references. The Montana Book Awards are a national competition for all writing categories. Many authors have an international reputation and have been winners of competitions abroad.

In national and urban libraries there is a large collection of rare European manuscripts, as well as private collections. Early missionary influence was the most influential force for Maori and Pakeha literacy.

Graphic arts

Cities like Dunedin have state-of-the-art public art galleries. All forms of graphic arts are practiced and a national style has emerged mixing Maori and European elements. Training in traditional Maori carving has been widely used.

Performing arts

There is a National Symphony Orchestra and at least two first-class urban symphony orchestras. The National Youth Orchestra meets once a year. The Royal New Zealand Ballet tours the country.

Other national arts organizations include the New Zealand Drama School, Chamber Music New Zealand, the New Zealand Choral Foundation, and the New Zealand Film Commission. Local opera, choral, dramatic and orchestral groups are numerous, and New Zealanders play in a large number of bands.

European opera and classical music are the highlights at one end, with New Zealand composers receiving regular performances, while pop music is generated locally. European theater and ballet prevail, but New Zealand producers and choreographers produce their own versions, and there are many playwrights.

Traditional Maori dances and songs (“waiata”) are widely performed. Most television programming is imported, but New Zealand produces a soap opera and nature documentaries.

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