Cultural Awareness

June 9, 2015

New Zealand - Culture and Customs

New Zealand FlagFacts and Statistics

Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia 

Capital: Wellington 

Population: 3,993,817 (July 2004 est.) 

Ethnic Make-up: New Zealand European 74.5%, Maori 9.7%, other European 4.6%, Pacific Islander 3.8%, Asian and others 7.4% 

Religions: Anglican 24%, Presbyterian 18%, Roman Catholic 15%, Methodist 5%, Baptist 2%, other Protestant 3%, unspecified or none 33% (1986) 

The three official languages of New Zealand are English, Maori and NZ Sign Language. English is the language of day-to-day business within New Zealand, a remnant of ties to the British Commonwealth. Maori is a Polynesian language similar to the languages of other Pacific Island cultures, such as Hawaiian, Tongan, and Samoan. Over 157,000 people in New Zealand speak Maori (2006 Census). 

  In terms of New Zealand’s population, there are many ‘cultures’ to be aware of and they are not necessarily based on one’s ethnicity, race, nationality or religion. Commonly recognised New Zealand cultures include (but not exclusively):

• Mäori

• New Zealand/European

• Pacific Peoples (e.g. those from the islands of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia)

• Asian (e.g. Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Korean etc.)

• European

• Other immigrant populations (e.g. Somali, Russian etc.)

• Catholic

• Jewish

• Arabic

• Gay/Homosexual and Transgender

• Teenagers/Elderly


Culture can influence expectations and perceptions of the health care system (on both the part of the patient and provider), as well as factors that play a role in effective communication, such as body language, comfort with expressing disagreement, modesty traditions, and disease attribution (i.e. beliefs regarding the nature and causality of wellness, disease, and injury).

The need to develop cultural competence is predicated by:

a) Legislative requirements: Section 118(i) of the HPCAA requires that health practitioners observe standards of cultural competence, as set by their professional authority. In addition, Right 1(3) of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights 1996 guarantees to patients the right to services by a health professional ‘that take into account the needs, values, and beliefs of different cultural, religious, social and ethnic groups.

b) The Treaty of Waitangi 1840: The New Zealand Health Strategy acknowledges ‘the special relationship between Mäori and the Crown under the Treaty of Waitangi’4 and, in line with the New Zealand Disability Strategy and Mäori Health Strategy, sets down three principles derived from the Treaty related to Mäori health: partnership, participation and protection. The principle of protection is particularly relevant here as it is concerned with eliminating health disparities between Mäori and non-Mäori, and safeguarding Mäori cultural concepts, values, and practices in health care


Papamoa Pines is proud to embrace the cultures of all of our patients.  Whänau / relatives are most welcome and our patients are offered the chance to have a chaperone for their proceedures 

We also encourage and welcome translators to assist with those patients who experience language barriers to ensure a thorough understanding of their consultation/treatment and to ensure an overall effective professional experience

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