Author(s): Ljiljana Ortolja-Baird
Culture Smart! New Zealand offers insights into a country that is reflecting on its identity, having shed its colonial past and now moving from a bicultural society (Maori and European) toward a new multiculturalism. Despite the challenges ahead a declining agricultural sector and the consequences for an economy that depends largely on international tradeNew Zealand society is resilient, underpinned by the values of anti-materialism, tolerance, patience, and commonsense, and driven by a shared passion about being a Kiwi. Not by chance was New Zealand chosen to represent Tolkien s ancient Middle-Earth in the film trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Vast and varied, breathtakingly beautiful and perilous, the land harks back to a mythological past. Positioned, almost, on the 180th meridian in the Pacific Ocean, and straddling the furthest reaches, east and west of Greenwich Mean Time, New Zealand is remote, and even sometimes inadvertently left off world maps. This remoteness might be one of its greatest assets. It is off the beaten track, with a wilderness of World Heritage national parks to exploreembracing ice-carved fiords, lakes, valleys, and towering mountains; lush lowland forests and limestone canyons where the birdlife is prolific; and spectacular volcanic features imbued with Maori cultural and spiritual associations. Set against this stunning background are the New Zealanders, just 4.6 million of them in an area of 103,500 square milesequating to fifteen people per square milewho, not surprisingly, are passionate about their country and the quality of life it offers. Kiwis, as they are affectionately known, are friendly, helpful, and fiercely equalitarian. The rugged grafters of pioneer days have mellowed into a cafe-loving culture where good coffee is an art, local Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs have edged out foreign competition, and taste for the country s craft-beer is growing exponentially. All great companions for enjoying the prowess of the All Blacks rugby team in action!