Key Cultural Heritage In New Zealand

Key Cultural Heritage In New Zealand
New Zealand's key cultural heritage stems from two major roots – the complex and ancient nature-related Maori culture and the western, mostly British influences which arrived with the first Pakeha immigrants. Unsurprisingly in these days of increasing awareness of man's links with the natural world, Maori spiritual beliefs and traditions are experiencing a major renaissance amongst white New Zealanders.

The country's most beloved cultural heritage is its supreme natural beauty, about which Kiwis are passionate. Maori beliefs hold that every part of nature has its own protective spirit nourishing its life force. This message seems to have got through to the New Zealand government's environmental department over the years, as almost half of the islands' land areas are national parks, with five designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Maori cultural traditions, (Maoritanga), from weaving and carving to performing arts including dance and chant forms now enjoy strong, cross-cultural support, with many areas in the national parks sacred to Maori religious beliefs still places for festivals and traditional ceremonies. A strong Maori influence is also present in the gastronomy of the country and Maori expressions are used by Pakeha as part of everyday speech.

The relatively young country and its remoteness from the rest of the world has developed its own individual cultural heritage untainted by other influences.

New arrivals from the West may feel they have stepped back in time to a simpler world, with plain, direct speech and mutual respect the norm even in the cosmopolitan, bustling cities. The romantic ideal of 'Kiwi Man' as a cross between an American frontiersman and an Australian rancher able to live self-sufficiently in remote areas is still found, although women's suffrage arrived in the late 19th century.

Due to increased immigration from Asia over the late 20th and early 21st centuries, New Zealand's cultural stance has diluted the 'Englishness' and pioneer-based ties of the preceding cultural norms and caused the government to introduce biculturalism as part of the educational curriculum. Globalisation has helped spur the changes in attitude, with many young New Zealanders heading for the West for their final years in education.

However, a still-essential element is the belief that, with effort, most people can achieve whatever they want, along with an increasing trend to view every individual ethnic culture in the land, be it English, European, Polynesian, Irish, Italian, Asian or Maori, as valuable in its own right.