New Zealand is a country in the Pacific Ocean. It is located on two large islands and around seven hundred small islands. In fact, New Zealand is a mysterious country as due to its geographical location, it is isolated from the rest of the world. Traditions and culture of New Zealand is an example of powerful ethnic weaves, the main components of which are Maori and English roots.
The culture of New Zealand is the result of a bizarre mix of Maori, European, Polynesian, and Asian traditions that coexist peacefully next to each other. “Modern New Zealand is attempting to create a healthy environment where people of many cultures can live and thrive and it is not an easy feat” (Flagler 38). A key point in the history of the islands was the arrival of the British with their original features. Along with them, writing and all trends of Western culture appeared in this country. However, at the same time Maori culture also persisted. Eventually, people from the neighboring Polynesian islands and southeastern Asia came to New Zealand. They brought their characteristic features as well.
Nowadays, the culture of New Zealand has its unique features which are not peculiar to the USA. Despite the influence of civilization, modern Maori continue to maintain the religious traditions of their ancestors. “If asked what Maori culture meant to New Zealanders, most of them begin by mentioning the Maori language and the distinctive Maori arts and crafts – action songs, wood carving, painted scroll-work, reed panels and weaving” (Metge 44). In the past, woodcarving replaced writing, and carved images documented important moments and tradition in the history of the tribe. This art is still alive. Today in New Zealand, tattoos called Ta Moko are also popular among Maori. In the past, Ta Moko meant social division, e.g. the Maori without tattoos on the face belonged to the lower position of the society. However, they were allowed to apply tattoos on the body. Today’s Maori continue the tradition of tattoos. However, they apply them more for aesthetic purposes and as a tribute to the traditions of their people.
Another extant element of Maori culture which cannot be found in the United States is a dance kapa haka. It is a combination of body movements, facial expressions, gestures, dancing, and singing with rather aggressive behavior of male warriors demonstrating strength and dexterity. Nowadays in New Zealand there are many different versions of a traditional dance. There is even an army performance. Generally speaking, kapa haka is not just men’s dance accompanied by inimical cries. There is also a female direction of the ancient custom called poi. It is also a dance combined with juggling of balls on ropes. This kind of dance is naturally quieter.
The New Zealanders argue that leisure and sport are on the first place and only then comes work. They prefer vacations with adventures: kayaking or hiking. The most popular sports are bowling, rugby and, of course, sailing. From entertainments that are also connected with the sea, deep-sea fishing is very popular. These sports are extremely different from the ones in the USA. People from America prefer basketball, football and baseball. The New Zealanders love to spend competitions reminiscent of the difficult life of the first settlers, for example, cut a log with a heavy axe quickly and accurately. For thrill-seekers, companies organize rafting on wild rivers of New Zealand (Stenhouse and Wood 118).
People from New Zealand and the US have radically different ideas about work. “New Zealanders do not look favorably on rules, detailed administrative procedures, or being controlled by micromanaging bureaucrats” (Chhokar, Brodbeck and House 422). The New Zealanders value free time and leisure very much. However, Americans value work and money. Americans see hard work as a way to achieve personal success and material prosperity.
Unlike in the United States, in New Zealand there is only one city with a population of over one million people. In the largest city of the country – Auckland, the population is 1.2 million people. Therefore, in most cities of the country, there is no bustle. However, there is no provincial intolerance to anything new. Life in New Zealand is often described in two words: beautiful and peaceful. The word “peaceful” cannot be applied to the United States as there is a great speed of life in every city.
As for the rules of behavior, New Zealanders and Americans have both similarities and differences. Men of both nations take off hats in all public places: in churches, restaurants, private homes or offices. In contrast to New Zealanders, Americans hold a fork in the right hand changing it on a knife as needed while eating. In the process of eating, an American can drink coffee, whereas in New Zealand people typically drink coffee after a meal. Americans eat soup from the edge of a spoon and New Zealanders from the end. In both countries, it is not customary to leave a spoon in soup plates or coffee cups.
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Unlike Americans, New Zealanders are not particularly superstitious. To avoid a basilisk glance and misfortune, Americans knock on wood. Americans often carry a cent coin in a pocket or notebook. Students believe that an old tie brings happiness on the exams. Astrology is extremely popular in the US. Some superstitions have enormous power, such as the unlucky number 13. Theaters do not have seats with this number and a hockey team does not have players with the number 13 (Luedtke 139). However, Maori have many omens. For example, they believe that trees can help a woman to give birth to a child. In New Zealand, it is believed that a barren woman who embraces a tree will give birth to a boy or girl depending on which side to embrace –western or eastern.
New Zealand has a traditional and unique culture. Traditions inherited from the British settlers remain very strong in the country. Over the past 20 years, there has been an active movement for the revival of Maori culture in all its various manifestations. Preservation and development of national Maori culture is one of priorities of the country. In addition to natural resources and charms of rural life, New Zealanders tend to show the other benefits of their country, such as the modern city, infrastructure development, and cultural life of society. It puts New Zealand in one line with the advanced countries of the world.