Local traditions and culture in New Zealand

  • A French place in New Zealand - the same colours.
    A French place in New Zealand - the same...
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Most Viewed Local Customs in New Zealand

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    Maori Language

    by angiebabe Written Dec 29, 2013

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    We learnt Maori at school, many of our place names are Maori names...despite what some say the Maori culture and language has been kept alive and respected and even more so over the last 20 years more and more concerted systems are in place to keep the language alive amongst the peoples of NZ...and not just for people with Maori ancestry.
    Children can now go to kindergartens where Maori language is used or taught - and Maori language is part of the school curriculum through the ongoing academia. Even highschools that do all classes in Maori and TV stations with all the news and other programmes broadcasting using Maori language.

    Actually there are not many full blooded Maoris that can be found in NZ these days - a true melting pot here of Polynesia and Anglo...

    It would help a lot, and certainly be enthusiastically received if when you visit NZ you can show you have taken the time to learn how to pronounce NZ place names and greetings etc. Much of our colloquial speech contains Maori words.

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    Canoe Regatta

    by kiwi Updated Mar 20, 2013

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    Every March on the Saturday closest to St Patrick's Day, there is a cultural spectacle worth seeing if timing is right for you. You will see a very unique gathering of maori waka (wooden canoes), coming down the Waikato River to Turangawaewae Marae, which is the village home of the Maori King.
    The public are welcomed onto the Marae, and you get riverside to see the waka and the warriors up close.
    One very special aspect of this event, apart from the gathering of waka, is you get to hear the warriors/paddlers chant their strokes. As well they paddle past the crowd, and using the strong flow of the Waikato water, turn and paddle back upstream to salute the King and representatives and guests.
    I found this manouvre, where they turn these huge craft, very impressive and precise. It's quite amazing how they place these craft in the exact position they want to be in, with no other help but from the paddlers and the river flow.

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    Bowls of coffee and giant scones

    by al2401 Written Jul 7, 2012

    Another local tradition in NZ is the size of a cup of coffee. When ordering a milk based coffee like Cappucino or Latte don't be surprised when it comes in a cup almost the size of a soup bowl. That's a great cup of coffee.

    While we are on the subject of morning tea - the scones are also huge especially the savoury ones!

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    How to order a beer

    by al2401 Updated Jul 7, 2012

    After you have been in New Zealand for only a short while you will realise that, like all English speaking countries, they have their own version.

    My first night in NZ and I want a cider to go with my lamb. The waiter asks if I want a Handle or a 12!?

    First lesson - a Handle is a pint and served in a mug with a handle. A 12 is a 12 ounce glass

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  • Tipping

    by marmi138 Written May 31, 2011

    In New Zealand, it is NOT customary to tip. It is becoming increasingly common in restaurants to tip for exceptional service, or in other situations such as in hotels where staff have gone WAY above and beyond the normal standard of service, but as a general rule, its not normal to tip in NZ. You will find that many restaurants will have a jar by the exit if you do wish to tip.

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    The Hongi

    by shelnlin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    In New Zealand we have the NZ Maori and NZ European (or also known as Pakeha). A traditional greeting here of the Maori is to press their nose against anothers nose which is known as a Hongi. It is often displayed at official ceremonies and when visitors are
    welcomed onto a Marae (Maori Meeting place). When a person is greeted in this
    fashion they are then considered part of the group and no longer a guest. I have
    just looked it up on the internet and it basically means "sharing of breath."

    I have just shared this with Mikebond in hope that this will help him with his studies at High School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste (wow)! :-)

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    New Zealand has two Languages

    by shelnlin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    New Zealand has two main Languages English and Maori. Both are used for everyday purposes and although not everyone in New Zealand is fluent in Maori they do know alot of words that they say without even thinking about it especially when reading names of cities such as Rotorua or townships such as Whakatane. Even Greeting a person by saying Kia Ora (Hello).

    Below I have added a few words that may be beneficial to the traveller

    Hello ~ Kia Ora
    Welcome~ Haere mai
    Food~ Kai
    Drink ~Inu
    Road~ huarahi
    Street~ waharoa
    Weather~ rangi
    Mountain~ maunga
    Lake~ roto
    Sea ~ tai
    Man~ Tangata
    Woman~ Wahine
    Child~ Tamariki

    Spring flowers in Cambridge
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    Bras on fences?

    by kiwi Updated Jul 7, 2010

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    This is NOT a local custom, to hang your bra on the fence as you drive by. But strangely enough the collection of discarded bras is growing here.
    This fence is on the Crown Range Road, Cardrona, between Queenstown and Wanaka. I guess it's something people are just compelled to do when they see the array already hanging there.
    I have seen at Wanaka a fence made of bikes, and there used to be a fence with boots and shoes hanging from it, but this one was dismantled.
    Perhaps this odd habit is becoming an local custom after all!
    UPDATE: Authorities decreed that this fence be removed, so it is no longer there for people to admire unfortunately.

    The Bra Fence

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    Hongi is a form of greeting

    by misoluva Updated Mar 29, 2010

    Hongi(pronounced hor-ngee) is pressing of the noses. You press your nose against the nose of the other person. This is the way Maori greet each other.
    The reason we hongi is acknowledge each other and where you come from and signifies the 'breath of life' when god blew life into Adam.

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    Vallas / Fences

    by elpariente Written Feb 3, 2010

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    Puede parecer raro hablar de vallas , pero nos impresionaron las vallas que veíamos en NZ acostumbrados a vallas de metro y medio máximo , aquí había algunas que medían más de cinco metros , hechas de árboles y que destacaban en los paisajes por su altura y por su verde oscuro
    Hemos supuesto que son tan grandes para de alguna manera romper las fuertes corrientes de aire

    It may seem strange to talk of fences, but we were impressed by the fences we saw in NZ as we are used to fences five feet up, here there were some that were higer than five meters, made of trees and they were highlited in the landscape due to their dimensions and their dark green colour
    We have assumed that are so great to somehow break the strong air currents

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    by kiwigal_1 Updated Nov 24, 2009

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    New Zealand is famous for The All Blacks our national team. If they are playing while you are in NZ it is worth a trip to see them. This is a pic of The All Blacks playing the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park, Auckland.

    Want to know more about Rugby in New Zealand? Then check out this website:

    New Zealand Rugby

    All Blacks vs Wallabies

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    by keeweechic Updated Sep 9, 2009

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    Employees in New Zealand do not depend on tips or gratuities as part of their income. Its purely at your discretion for good service. So if you get good service and want to tip, then it will be appreciated... not expected.

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    Marmite or Vegemite

    by fishandchips Written May 14, 2008

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    These food icons have been part of a great debate in New Zealand for many years - the question? Which is better, Marmite or Vegemite? For the traditionalist, Marmite is the kiwi icon with Vegemite its nasty Aussie cousin who has insinuated itself into the land of the long white cloud.

    Marmite has its origins in the UK although the product from over there doesn't taste anything like the Kiwi version (you can buy the Kiwi version in the UK branded as Vita-Mite). Vegemite was first made in Australia in the 1920's and found its way into NZ not long after that.

    An old myth is that Vegemite comes from vegetables and Marmite from meat - incorrect on both counts. Both products are made from yeast extract and a few other bits & pieces (salt, sugar, colour....). I must admit that I prefer Marmite (I have a tub at work - ready for any occasion) though I guess it's all about what you were brough up on.

    Don't feel that you have to try it while you are in NZ - feedback from friends from the USA was that it is repulsive...... mind you, those two eat Grits for breakfast!

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    Fish and Chips

    by fishandchips Written Apr 6, 2008

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    You can get these gems in almost every town in NZ with a large variety of fish to select from. Originally shark flesh was used for the fish but due to high levels of mercury a few years ago this was changed to other varieties of fish.

    We have come a long way on NZ from the old shark and tatties to being able to pick your fish and have it battered or crumbed. In the attached photo the fish and chips are gluton free from a shop on the main street of Sumner - you can't go wrong!!

    For a more English experience you can also get mushy peas though these are hard to find - try The Bard on Avon in Christchurch as a start point.

    Standard F&C will set you back $2 for each item with the option of pick your own fish starting at $3.50 or so.

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    Be prepared for entering and leaving NZ

    by Firepony Written Jan 11, 2008

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    When you arrive make sure you have NO organic products with you. From food to dirt in your shoes. They will do a complete examination of your bags, clothing and you for any organic products. They are very concern about bugs, cross contamination and desease entering thier Island.

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