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Wednesday, 22nd September 2010
"Kiwi Culture"?
By Kevin Walton

As I was driving home from work yesterday I was listening to Josh and Tom on MoreFM as they discussed an incident that had recently happened to Tom. One of Tom's friends had invited him to a birthday party, but they hadn't invited Tom's girlfriend. Despite this, Tom went along to the party by himself anyway and this proved to be an unpopular decision with his girlfriend who gave him a bit of the old "cold-shoulder" treatment upon his return.
Discussion on this issue was opened to the public and the calls came flooding in telling Tom how wrong he was to go to the party if his girlfriend hadn't been invited. My initial reaction to this issue was a mixed one. On the one hand, a part of me somehow instinctively knew that what Tom had done was wrong and was somehow disrespectful to his girlfriend. On the other hand, a part of me has to ask, "Why???"
Oddly enough, this appeared to be the same problem faced by many of the callers who phoned in to berate Tom for his unseemly behavour; they all told him how wrong he was and how they couldn't believe that he couldn't see what was so wrong with what he'd done and yet, not a single caller could actually give Tom a clear cut, concrete, undisputable reason as to WHY his actions were so wrong.
The expectation seems to be that if you are in a relationship with someone, then if one of you is invited to a party then you should both be invited. When you are in a relationship, one comes with the other.
So the question for me, I suppose, that really comes out of all this is, is this simply an ideology that has become embedded into us as a part of our own Kiwi culture? Or is it not a cultural thing at all but a universal truth that applies to every culture?

This also leads me to wonder, what really is "Kiwi culture"? (By "Kiwi" I mean "New Zealand/European").

The tertiary institute where I work recently hosted its annual "Cultural Week" where students from all of the different cultural groups represented in the school get together and put on demonstrations and performances and give talks showing the uniqueness of their own cultures.
I was asked to give a talk on "New Zealand/Kiwi culture". I found this to be quite a difficult and frustrating task. Sure, I managed to get up and give a good 30 minute Powerpoint presentation packed full of "Kiwiana" stuff, traditionally Kiwi foods such as Pavlova, Marmite, Kiwi Fruit, etc, Bungy Jumping, etc. But I still really feel like I missed the true essence of what "Kiwi culture" really is.
To me, "culture" is the very foundation of who we are as a united group of people. It is our underlying beliefs, traditions, rituals, expectations, hierarchical structures, etc.
All of these things are very clearly evident in the Maori culture, but very few New Zealand/Europeans that I have talked to have been able to give me much by way of clear definitions of "Kiwi culture" in this respect.
The problem is, it's not something that many of us take much time to really think about in our daily lives. We live it every day. We somehow know who we are and what our beliefs and expections are, but we rarely give it any real conscious thought.

So I ask all you New Zealand/Europeans out there, what is "Kiwi culture"? Really think about it. As a New Zealand/European, what are your beliefs, traditions, rituals, expectations, etc? How are we unique from other cultures? Are people like our good friend Tom simply victims of their own unawareness of their own cultural issues? Or is there more to it?


Comment by ViciousKiwi
Posted: 2010-11-05T13:23:52-05:00

"Kiwi Culture"

Cultural Tradition among European Maori are threatened by a "New Age" lifestyle, What once were farmland and horses have been traded in for a newer, easier and more convenient lifestyle. Nearly everything has been out dated, looking back to the old days where a normal lifestyle was considered "waking up at 6 o'clock in the morning to milk the cows." Nowadays the rich and fulfilling culture we once led is deteriorating one generation at a time.

The ages have surely softened us all up, as we don't need to endure the hardships our ancestors did.


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