Why cultural understanding is critical to today’s society in New Zealand

Marae in New Zealand

Cultural understanding doesn’t mean that you need to be an expert in other cultures, it means being willing to be open-minded and understanding that not everyone is the same.

New Zealand is gradually becoming a vibrant multicultural country, led by key urban centres like Auckland and Wellington, so it’s no longer unusual to meet people and experience situations that are unfamiliar to you. It’s important to understand cultures other than your own and how to manage these situations, not only for your own personal development, but to grow your employability as well.

When you learn about different cultures, you’re building respect and empathy for the people around you.

Kiwi culture is welcoming to people of all countries and cultures

We welcome all religions and support the right for people to have their own beliefs and value systems. Over the past few decades, we have become an increasingly multicultural society.

Waka on the water in New Zealand

Do’s and Don'ts

Generally, Kiwis are great travellers and we understand that adjusting to somewhere new can be different. 
Here are some simple tips for you to remember when encountering a different culture in New Zealand:
  • Ask and watch. Watch how people interact and don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is the quickest way to learn and Kiwis are (typically!) approachable and happy to help. It’s also okay to ask Kiwis to let you know if you do anything inappropriate.
  • Food and social occasions. Sharing food is a common way for Kiwis to socialise in a relaxed atmosphere. For more information on this, check out our recent blog post.
  • Listen to New Zealand radio and watch Kiwi shows like Shortland Street (New Zealand’s oldest soap opera) to get used to the Kiwi accent and social norms!
  • Te reo Māori is a very important part of New Zealand culture. Find out more about speaking te reo Māori, some common words and phrases and how you can learn more. 
  • Understand tikanga Māori – the Māori way of doing things. Check out Victoria University of Wellington’s tips here
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