What people in New Zealand are like

As mentioned in the previous section, the ethnic make-up of the New Zealand population is diverse, with a mix of Pasifika people (people from the Pacific region), Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, European, and Mäori ethnic groups. People in New Zealand are generally friendly and many love sports and the outdoors.

Mäori

Mäori make up approximately 16% of New Zealand’s population. Mäori societal structure is made up of three levels: the individual whänau or family, which is connected through whakapapa (genealogy) to a hapü (or a subtribe), which in turn is connected to an iwi (or main tribe) and then back to the ancestral waka or canoe.
Whakapapa is important to Mäori as it:
· is a source of identity
· confirms family relationships
· connects Mäori with the land
· is the heart of Mäori culture

Both Mäori and English are official languages, with English the main language spoken. You will come across Mäori words, culture and customs during your time here (refer to ‘Glossary of Common Mäori Words’ on p. 62 of the Appendix for a list of common Mäori words and their meanings).
If you are invited to a marae, a Mäori communal place, you may be given a powhiri, or welcome. After every speech there is a Mäori song. To learn about Mäori customs go to: www.maori.org.nz

Cultural differences

New Zealanders do some things differently to Chinese. Some of the differences between New Zealanders and Chinese include:
· Generally New Zealanders are casual and relaxed, and dress informally on most occasions, including when we go to cafes or shopping.
· Many New Zealanders have a quite direct and frank way of speaking.
· New Zealanders are not always punctual for social occasions. Don’t be concerned or offended if someone says they will meet you at, for example, 1.30pm and they don’t arrive until 1.45pm.
· Appointments are made in advance to see professional people (e.g. to see a doctor or lecturer).
· People are usually very happy to answer questions, so don’t be shy.
· Personal privacy is important and subjects such as salary, mortgages and age are not often discussed by New Zealanders. These topics are not usually discussed outside of the family.
· Sometimes New Zealanders can be offended if people stare (look closely) at them and it may be considered rude and aggressive.
· Sometimes New Zealanders can be offended by personal comments such as “you have put on weight”, “she is skinny” or “his hair is very grey”.
· Generally people in New Zealand, especially adults, like to hear people say “please” and “thank you” when paying for goods and services or when help has been given.
· New Zealanders find spitting and littering offensive. Some can get upset if they see people do this.
· New Zealanders mostly speak quietly when on public transport or in public spaces, even when with friends.
· Many New Zealanders have pets, most commonly a cat or dog.
· New Zealanders can be passionate about sport - particularly rugby. Playing sport is a great way to make friends.
· Schools, institutions/education providers may be open on Saturdays or Sundays but classes will rarely be held on these days.
· Young New Zealand people (over 18 years of age) often get together in pubs, bars or cafes rather than in restaurants, which can be costly. It is acceptable not to drink alcohol when socialising.
· Tipping is not expected in New Zealand. Some cafes and restaurants have a container for tips.
· Generally, New Zealand people do not bargain when they go shopping, but for larger items such as cars, whiteware, electrical appliances or even bicycles there can be a range of prices and it is acceptable to ask for a discount for cash. It may be acceptable to bargain at open-air markets.
· New Zealanders don’t carry much cash as electronic methods of payment are widely used (refer to ‘Money Matters’ on p. 31).

Religion

According to 2001 Census information, nearly two million people in New Zealand are Christian (Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian are the main denominations), and about one million do not have a religious affiliation. Other religions in New Zealand include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Spiritualism.

Pets

As mentioned above, it is common for New Zealanders to keep a pet (dog, cat, fish, bird, rabbit etc.) However, some people are allergic to cat or dog hair. Antihistamine tablets can treat these allergies and can be purchased at chemists.
You should also be cautious about approaching dogs. Some safety tips for being around dogs include:
· Always ask permission from a dog's owner before approaching or touching a dog.
· Supervise children at all times when a dog is nearby.
· Stay away from a dog who is feeding, has pups or is asleep.
· Move quietly and slowly away from a dog if you are uneasy about it.
· Never taunt or annoy dogs.
· Don't act excited around a dog, or run, ride, or skate, close to a dog.
· Do not run away from a dog. Move back slowly.
· Do not force anyone who is afraid to pet a dog. (People afraid of animals sometimes make a dog uneasy, and so the dog is more likely to bite.)