New Zealand Culture
»»The Culture of New Zealand««
By Vanessa Tapiceria, Ebony Mena, Gabriella Alvarez
Why is New Zealand a culture?
The New Zealand culture is shared knowledge, beliefs, values, languages, attitudes among them. It is learned and shared patterns of communication and information that have meaning to New Zealanders. This culture is learned, transmitted from one generation to the next. It is patterned and localized.
New Zealanders have a different outlook and attitudes towards life and beliefs. There is a saying that says, “She’ll be right, mate,” meaning that whatever comes will work itself out and what effort or progress that has been done is enough. They have a very optimistic view of life and the future which I find to be different than here in the United States where for the most part people take everything with a grain of salt. New Zealanders are people that enjoy the outdoors and are closely tied to the environment. There is a real difference between city and country life in New Zealand much like in the United States. City life is very individual and in the rural country life where the all the small towns are centered on the community and social events are important.
Some of the traditions that the New Zealanders have deal more with the indigenous people of the island called the Maori. The Maori is a matriarchal society and a belief of theirs is in that of a placed called a marae. This is a place where all can come together as a family and find that this place is a sense of “home.” This involves a social gathering where food, stories, and shelter provided. A leader that is female will start the event through announcing the call to enter, or “karanga,” which will cause the gatherers to follow in to the marae. The Maori have word – tapu (tuh-poo) that means sacred or holy. The marae is something the Maori declare to be tapu and requires the rituals are needed in order to approach the sacred area and should tapu be ignored it is believed by the Maori to bring death or sickness.
Maori Haka dance. A traditional dance of the Maori. The video provides a short information of what haka means to the Maori.
The major religion of New Zealand is Christianity but also includes Buddhists, Jews, and Hindus. But before religion was brought to the country, the Maori had their own belief system of creation of women and men with their own supreme god – Io. The god Io had created the all of Earth and its inhabitants.
The dominate language of New Zealand is English so for the most part it shouldn’t be hard to communicate through a common language with people from this culture. New Zealand is one of the most monolingual nations in the world with the population speaking 90-95% English. All materials and education is written in English. Their accent is reminiscent to Australians and New Zealanders are often mistaken for Australians. Just like any culture, New Zealand has their own set of sayings such as “cow-cockie,” which is a dairy farmer or “up the boohai,” meaning something is off. The Maori also have their own language that is recognized and taught through the family. New Zealanders are generally friendly and reserved but soon open up to others and casual in address and formality but stress hospitality in their culture. When greeting other New Zealanders it is acceptable to address them initially by their title and name with a handshake and smile then on to a causal name basis. Hongi, is an age long tradition in the Maori that requires pressing one’s nose to another as a form of greeting.
New Zealand clothing and appearance focus more on dressing comfortably and informally. This includes your typical T-shirts or blouses paired with jeans and shorts and comfortable shoes. However, when attending parties or dining at restaurants that require a more formal attire, business suits or evening dresses are worn. Designers of New Zealand often make travels to the world’s fashion districts such as Paris or Milan to acquire new ideas of dress.
Maori females, around the time of European arrivals, wore maro which is a garment that is triangularly shapedand draped on the body like an apron. By the end of the 19th century, maro has evolved into a kilt-like garment with an inner lining, similar to the piupiu (skirts) worn today. In modern times, the piupiu are made of flax. The underskirt (worn below the piupiu) can either be red or black in color.
Maori males on the other hand also wear a piupiu and a taniko woven design is worn around the top edge of the piupiu. Taniko is a weaving teachnique that Maori use. Before, males wore a tapeka (bodyband) that sits diagonally across the chest. In more modern times, the tapeka is no longer favored and instead replaced with a tatua, which is a wide belt that encircles their waist and piupiu. Underneath the piupiu of males are black shorts to maintain modesty. Maori, if not wearing traditional dress, wear modern Western-style clothing.
Before the mid-twentieth century, New England diet was based on a concoction of meats, potatoes, fruits and vegetables that were in season, fish, dairy products, and bread. A little after the mid-twentieth century, New England cuisine incorporated tropical and subtropical fruits, vegetables, and spices. The production of wine boomed due to New Zealand’s Mediterranean climate.
On the other hand, Maori cuisine incorporates birds, kai moana (food from the sea), wild pork of fowl, lamb, and sweet potato. Their method of cooking is called the hangi. Hangi is an earth oven using heated stones to produce steam to cook food. Preparation for the hangi includes digging the earth and then heating the stones in the already dug pit until the stones are hot. Baskets filled with food are then placed on the heated stones and covered with the earth, leaving it to steam for several hours.
Time Consciousness/Sense of Space
In general, people are on time, especially when it comes to business related meetings. Many New Zealanders believe being punctual is important and being tardy is considered rude and disrespectful. The buses and trains however are often late (by 5 to 10 minutes). Opposite of New Zealand general citizens, the Maori culture don’t place a great deal of emphasis regarding time. In their cultural beliefs, Maori believe that placing great emphasis on time and being punctual slows down the rhythm of life. Maori sense of space contains not only the physical world but also through historical and present times as space also involves their cultures ancestors.
In New Zealand the family life is typically the nuclear family like in the United States, but this is changing to include growth of single families and same sex couples. Recently there is a trend of more divorces and starting families later in life. There is strict class system in New Zealand but there is a rising gap between the rich and poor, this is especially evident between the Maori and non-Maori. The Maori have a matriarchal society that consists of a hierarchy. There is much emphasis upon family within the Maori and the values that are taught to the children are passed down through an oral history. The New Zealand society has a distinct rural and city life, the city life is where the industry and modern invention dominate while in the country the people are driven to create a solid sense of community. The government of New Zealand is a democratic government that that is part of the British Commonwealth. As such the head of the nation is the Queen of England who is represented by the governor-general in New Zealand; this person is actually appointed by the Queen on recommendation. But the parliament is different compared to most countries in that there is no written constitution, no separation of powers, and only have one chamber of parliament.
New Zealanders have a school education system that is mandatory from the age of six to sixteen; there are pre-school programs also available. Three years into secondary school the children take exams called the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, students then work to gain credits like high school in America that will qualify to graduate and to move one to continuing education. There are universities in New Zealand that students can apply to. There is a marked difference between Maori people in that they have not been able to keep up statistically with others in New Zealand education wise. There have been new programs instituted to try and correct this.
Most of the jobs in New Zealand are in the cities as compared to the ranching and farming that is associated with the rural parts of New Zealand. Currently there is about the same amount of men working as women. Equal pay and work is apparent but not always equal opportunity, with more men getting higher positions then women more often. Those who are younger tend to leave home at young ages to move to the city in order to find work. New Zealanders are hard workers with a good work ethic much like the United States.
Demographics and Statistics of New Zealanders in the United States
Total population of New Zealanders in U.S: 22,870
Language spoken at home………………………….22450
Language other than English………………………………….2085
Speak English less than “very well”………………………..565
Speak English less than “very well”………………………..105
Other Indo-European languages……………………………..725
Speak English less than “very well”…………………………110
Asian and Pacific Island languages………………………….935
Speak English less than “very well”…………………………290
Nursery school, preschool……….140
Elementary school (grade1-8)…..980
High school (grades 9-12)………485
College or graduate school………2010
High school graduate……………..4380
Some college, no degree………….4240
Graduate or professional degree…..3675
Income in 1999……………10395
Less than $10,000…………585
$10,000 to $24,999…………1320
$25,000 to $49,999…………2255
$50,000 to $99,999…………3590
$10,000 to $199,999………..1875
$20,000 or more…………….770
»Health Care Environment in New Zealand«
Perceived Discrimination Problems in Health
Racial discrimination is a term describing the treatment of a person or an entire group of people based on their racial background. Often times, discrimination against a certain group lead individuals to act or respond negatively towards that person or the group in an unfair and unjustified manner. In a study by Harris et al. (2006), the indigenous population (Maori) of New Zealand experienced higher prevalence of racial discrimination compared to other ethnic groups, followed by Asians, then Pacific peoples. Maori were ten times more likely to experience discrimination compared to their European counterparts. The study also reports that Maori and Pacific peoples have reported higher incidences of discrimination by health professionals due to their ethnic background. It was also found that the association between health discrimination lead to poorer health outcomes and health behaviors. Negative health outcomes for these groups are often related to cardiovascular problems such as hypertension and health behaviors include smoking and drinking alcohol. To support discrimination of Maori groups in health care, Davis et al. (2006), concluded that Maori patients were more likely to receive suboptimum care compared to their non-Maori counterparts.
In the study, Engaging Asian Communities in New Zealand was found that many Asians living in New Zealand are subjected to some form of racism. Some examples of racism are: verbal abuse, rude gestures, damaged to cars identifiable as Asian owned, throwing stones at them, and mocked them for poor communication. Dr. Rebecca Foley stated that in employment some felt they missed out on jobs and promotions because of their ethnicity, and workmates pretended not to understand them or patronized them.
New Zealand Culture Vs. US Culture
♦ Smoking Prevalence
»» 48.6% of Maori adults have higher smoking prevalence compared to 32.7% of US indigenous groups (American Indian/Alaskan Native). Comparing European settlers of New Zealand and whites in the United States, the smoking prevalence between these two groups are similar
(Bramley, Hebert, Tuzzio, and Chassin, 2005).
»» Like the Americas, tobacco was introduced with the arrival of European explorers into their land.
»» A great majority of women smoke during pregnancy due to lack of education on the effects of smoking on the fetus (Glover, Waldon, Manaena-Biddle, Holdaway, and Cunningham, 2009).
♦ Infant care practices and traditions in New Zealand Maori include:
»» Adult-infant bed sharing due to the belief it may have physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits for the child.
»» Baby massage. This cultural practice is performed by an older family member or a traditional masseur to give strength to the baby, prevent sudden death infant syndrome, and to avoid getting rashes and breathing problems (Abuidhail and Fleming, 2007).
»» When a Maori baby is born, the whenua (placenta) and the pito (umbilical cord) is given back to the mother and family in order for it to be buried in a sacred site. It is believed that burying the whenua and the pito will create a link between the land, the newborn baby, and the ancestors (Cairns, 2005).
♦ Effects of Food/Cooking Practices in New Zealanders
»» A high percentage of Maori and Pacific people used animal fats such as butter and lard when frying meats and vegetables whereas their European and Asian counterparts used vegetable oil (Metcalf et al., 2008).
»» Due to food/cooking practices, Maori has a higher incidence of getting cardiovascular diseases and ischemic heart diseases, which is two and a half times higher than that of non-Maori.
»» Between New Zealand and the United States, the US has a higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases and deaths in both the male and female category (American Heart Association, 2004).
Health Risk/High Risk Behaviors
♦ Smoking is the highest cause of preventable death in New Zealand in which one out of every two people who smoke will result in an early death. Ninety-four percent of lung cancer patients in New Zealand are smokers or former smokers. Every year, 4700 of New Zealanders die prematurely because of smoking. Furthermore, Maori men and women have one of the highest recorded rates of lung cancer in the world. Smoking can also increase the risk of cancers in the mouth, pancreas, and kidneys (Cancer Society of New Zealand, 2004).
♦ Sharing beds with their infant is common in Maori women. However, it was found that bed sharing is a risk factor for infant sudden death, particularly among infants whose mother smokes (Scragg et al., 1993).
♦ New Zealand high intake of salt, saturated fat, decreased vegetable and fruit intake, and increased BMI were risk factors that impacted the prevalence of ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes type 2, and selected cancers (Stefanogiannis et al., 2005).
♦ In a study done by Connor et al. (2005), they found that alcohol consumption in New Zealand was responsible for considerable causes of ill health. The study reports that men, compared to women, had higher years of life lost (YLLs) due to alcohol consumption. However, Maori men and women, compared to non-Maori had higher death rates and YLLs due to alcohol.
»» In the case of alcohol related conditions:
√ 51% of alcohol related death and 72% of YLLs were due to injuries
√ 24% of alcohol-related and 14% of YLLs resulted from cancers
♦ Top ten causes of death in 2002
- Ischemic heart disease
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Trachea, bronchus, lung cancers
- Colon and rectum cancers
- Alzheimer’s and other dementias
- Diabetes mellitus
- Breast cancer
- Lower respiratory infections
- Prostate cancer
*World Health Organization
Tobacco and Maori
The study called “What is the contribution of smoking and socioeconomic position to ethnic inequalities in mortality in New Zealand?” explains the factors that contribute to mortality in Maori and Pacific people. According to Blakely (2006), mortality rates for Maori are twice those for non-Maori in New Zealand. The reasons are because Maori and Pacific people have lower incomes, employment rates, and educational achievement than non-Maori non-Pacific people. Also, Maori have less access to or lower quality to life-saving treatments. Not having adequate resources for Maori population increases the risk of mortality among them.
In New Zealand, tobacco was a common trade commodity between Maori and non-Maori in the 1800s, resulting in widespread uptake of smoking among Maori (Blakely, 2006, pg 3). Smoking is a risk factor of many diseases and not having resources can worsen the diseases and cause death. In conclusion, Maori people have more mortality rate than non-Maori people because of their living situations.
Comparison of obesity between New Zealand and the United States.
From the World Health Organization
The major causes of death in New Zealand are chronic diseases and of these diseases coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most prevalent in causing death. The important thing to consider with the incidence of CAD is the evidenced inequality of mortality and prevalence rates between Maori and non-Maori peoples in New Zealand. In comparison to the United States, New Zealanders have a lower percentage of obesity and being overweight among the populations. Other risk factors associated with CAD such as cholesterol levels appear to be the same in when compared with the United States and across the sexes. While New Zealanders are more active then compared to the United States population, changes in lifestyle and diet are the biggest indicators in order reduce health risks. Reducing the consumption of tobacco and alcohol are also called for as New Zealand reports higher percentage uses in both sexes.
Cultural taboos in Health Care
♦ In Maori culture, direct eye contact is kept to a minimum as it may signify disrespect or confrontation.
♦ The head is the most sacred (tapu) area of the body. Ask for consent before proceeding to touch the head.
♦ Passing over a person’s head is considered stripping away the person’s sacredness (tapu).
♦ Surgical procedures such as removing a diseased body part are considered body mutilation in Maori culture.
♦ Like their head, removing or cutting away the hair of a Maori patient is sacred to their culture.
Source: Medical Council of New Zealand.
Identifying Maori culture:
♦ An age long tradition of greeting within Maori people includes pressing one’s nose to another or hongi.
♦ An important component of Maori culture includes karakia, or prayer. In a health care situation, Maori might recite prayers before a medical procedure.
♦ Pronouncing a Maori name correctly is the greatest sign of respect to Maori patients since they place great emphasis on the spoken word. In unsure of the pronunciation, as the patient.
♦ The involvement of family or whanau in all aspects of the Maori patient’s care is essential.
♦ To a Maori patient, their illness may be due to Mate Maori (Maori disease/illness) in which the disease gods may be punishing them due to a violation of tapu (sacred). When they suspect mate Maori is involve, suggest seeing their tohunga or minister.
♦ After death occurs in a Maori patient, the whaunu (family) may wish to wash, dress, and prepare the body themselves and the body should be transported feet first.
Source: Medical Council of New Zealand.
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Cancer Society of New Zealand (2004). Health Effects of Smoking. Available from http://www.cancernz.org.n
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