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Arts & Culture
of New Zealand

When Kiwis have some time off or are on holidays, their favourite past time is reading. Maybe the internet and television still dominate the less than 30’s, but for those older it has always been tradition to curl up with a nice book. The New Zealander Janet Frame won a Nobel prize for her contributions in the field of literature. The schools and the government with its many excellent public libraries have always encouraged literature and reading. The government also has an incentive for authors, promising them to buy and stock at least one of their books in every public library. This incentive gives the opportunity for many writers to put their ideas to paper and share it with the rest of the country.

Films such as "Once Were Warriors" “Whale rider” and “The Piano” had a great response from the international audience. A main characteristic of the kiwi cinema is its ability to blend drama, fiction, and history into amazing moving stories. However New Zealand doesn’t have any themes that they can build on such as in Australia with the crocodile Dundee for example, what they do have is one of the most beautiful natural backdrops in the world, which was made famous by the “Lord of the Rings”, entirely filmed in NZ. It has been said that up to 1/3 of the population participated in the film in one way or another. Today tour operator have capitalised on the success of the movie, and take tour groups to all the famous location of the film. The government has welcomed the success of the film and is attracting more film production to the country with incentives and tax exemptions. NZ has some great actors, writers and directors (its most famous being Peter Jackson) but still lack the opportunities, so many (as many before them) make the move to Hollywood to make their mark. New Zealand only has 3 channels on TV, with many deciding to get cable to have a greater selection of viewing. The local soap opera “Shortland Street” is a favourite with among the Kiwi. However most programs showed on NZ television are imported from America. Another media that is greatly imported from America is music. Although NZ has some good musicians that are favourites nationally, it lacks more international appeal. Artists which have had some international success include the opera singer Kiri te Kanawa, and rock groups Crowded House and Shihad, Theatre is not very accessible to the ordinary Kiwi with most theatres being located in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The Maori Art is unique to New Zeeland. Various pieces of wood, bone, and stone are often combined with the shiny blue of the Paua shell, a shell that when polished shows vibrant and spectacular colours. The Maoris are custom to wear pendants or necklaces (usually made out of bone or green stone) with many different meaniful Maori symbols. The most popular or famous of which is the one in the shape of a hook called the Hei Matau (pictured), which represents a safe journey through life, and the one called Piloura, which resembles a figure 8, and represent in the Maori culture to bring friendships and growth. The Hei tiki is an amulet with a distorted human form and represents earth, fire, and wind, and the Koropepe Manaia, a spiral shape with two eyes represent a type of guardian of your new life. Wooden sculptures are a Maori specialty, and you can easily find thousands of different sculptures of all shapes and sizes in various stores. Other crafts such as sheep wool products are also easily found. Maori art are in general very decorative, abstract, and are also unique to New Zealand .

The vibrant colours of the Paua Shell

Maori Wooden Sculpture 

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