New Zealand Local Etiquette

New Zealand Local Etiquette
Local etiquette can be divided into two sections, interacting successfully with Pakeha (non-Maori) and interacting successfully with Maori. There are considerable differences between the two cultures even now, involving variations in protocol and social behaviour and a totally different relationship with the environment.

On meeting and greeting a Pakeha for the first time, a handshake and a smile are the casual norm. First name terms are usually established early in the relationship, although it's best to wait until you are called by your first name before you introduce a more familiar tone. The Maori stand more on ceremony, with traditional protocols of meeting, greeting and sending off still given priority over more casual routines, particularly at business meetings with tribal groups.

Dining etiquette amongst Pakehas depends on the occasion and can be casual with continental table manners or more formal with stricter protocols such as seating plans and smarter dress requirements than the usual accepted casual style. Amongst the Maori, as a general rule, the meal is blessed by a senior person, before eating begins. If you are invited to a New Zealand home for a meal, a small gift of flowers or chocolates is the norm.

In business, Kiwis appreciate honesty, direct speech and a sense of humour, and are trusting. Overly friendly approaches are regarded with suspicion, and a breach of trust will make further communication extremely tricky. A sense of reserve with strangers is standard, but personal relationships are quickly established. Business meetings are relaxed but serious, with facts and figures to the fore rather than sales patter.

Casual but neat dress is the order of the day except in business circles, with few restaurants insisting on dress codes. Both the Pakeha and Maori extend hospitality readily, and assistance is offered to strangers even before it's requested. Kiwis are inordinately proud of the sublime natural beauty of their country, and express strong concerns about its preservation.

The Maori influence is seen in Pakeha environmental concerns; it's the strongest indigenous cultural influence of any here. Maoris believe everything has a life-force, with harmful dominance by the human race over nature diminishing the life force and affecting humans as severely as it affects the ecosystem. Furthermore, the maintenance and protection of the life force is essential for resilience within the ecosystem as well as for sustainable development. A disregard for environmental concerns wins no prizes here.