There is a common imagination about New Zealand that, since it is a part of the commonwealth of Australia, there are no serious differences between the ways of life in these two countries. However, New Zealand has a distinctive unique culture, which is actually a symbiosis of local (Maori) and continental (Pakeha) customs and traditions taking source from ancient indigenous tribal civilization. From social and business perspectives, the cultures of Pakeha (European) and Maori ethnic groups differ substantially. That is why it makes sense to consider them separately.
Pakeha Zealanders are broad-minded, opened, but a little conservative people. Their culture originates from early British colonizers in New Zealand and, therefore, traditional British conservatism is flourishing among Pakeha. They value comfort, personal achievements and good social relationships, that is why it is crucial for every overseas businessman to establish good interpersonal connections with Pakeha partners. Besides, Pakeha Zealanders are very concerned about environmental problems and do everything possible to preserve their beautiful green country.
In addition, members of Pakeha society give less importance to wealth or social status of a person, they believe that everyone has equal opportunities and must use own skills and abilities to achieve success in life. Maori Zealanders are very reserved, old-fashioned and well-mannered people, whose main values are their cultural identity and hospitality. In order to show pride for their country, they always try to assist foreigners and make their staying in New Zealand comfortable. In addition to traditional environmental concern, Maori always tend to demonstrate the elements of their ancient culture and make foreigners familiar with it.
For example, they enjoy singing national songs and frequently involve overseas guests in such ceremonies. Social hierarchy is an important value in Maori business culture and in formal situations everyone must respect social status and position of Maori people (Kwintessential). In addition, it is necessary to mention that country’s social and cultural development was also heavily influenced by a great amount of immigrants from the Pacific and Asian regions. This influence is especially obvious in the existing forms of local art and religious beliefs.
Therefore, there is a little uniformity in the attributes of social culture and cultural identity of New Zealanders, that is why it is quite hard to identify the phenomenon of “New Zealand culture” (Liu, McCreanor, McIntosh & Teaiwa). Nevertheless, as any nation of the world, the country has own traditional ways, customs and etiquette rules, which must be taken into account and followed by all overseas businessmen in New Zealand. Overview of the specifics of local business culture can be put to the following. New Zealanders usually great each other with a handshake and the expressions like “Good morning” or “Good Afternoon”.
Men must wait until a woman gives her hand first for a handshake. A smile and a meaningful (but not disturbing) eye-contact are also important elements of greeting procedure. In Maori business culture greeting ritual includes a special welcome ceremony, which is leaded by a head (Powhiri) and usually embraces a series of welcome speeches from the host side, a speech from the guest side, a special traditional singing followed by traditional Maori greeting hongi (touching noses). For the majority of the situations, conservative dress code is preferred in New Zealand, and it is always necessary to keep in mind climatic specifics of the country.
Weather conditions of New Zealand resemble the ones of London, with a great number of rainy days. That is why a raincoat and umbrella are essential things. It is polite to bring gifts for the hosts, which must be wrapped and given in the beginning of the meeting. The best gifts are considered to be a pack of chocolates, a book or a souvenir from the home-country. Usually, meetings must be scheduled not less than a week beforehand by fax, phone or e-mail. Punctuality in everything is absolutely vital in New Zealand. One must never be late either for formal or informal meetings; otherwise it will be understood as rudeness.
Since people of New Zealand are friendly and outgoing, even in terms of business relationships they tend to show their good attitude and move to first names very fast. Nevertheless, it is recommended to use the last names and titles of local businessmen, until it is offered from their side to start using the first names. As a rule, meetings or negotiations start with a small informal talk about the weather or latest cultural events. During the negotiations or presentation of own business project, the best strategy is to operate with factual information and concentrate on the very business idea, but not on own personal commercial skills.
Such tricks as loud voice, high pressure or too enthusiastic behavior during the presentation will not impress New Zealanders and, therefore, it is better to be self-possessed, calm and respectful. It is good to keep some eye contact during the presentation, as well as some certain personal space. Table manners practiced in New Zealand are continental and no special knowledge is required. Before a formal or informal dinner it is necessary to wait to be shown where to sit. When eating, one must not talk and must not keep elbows on the table.
When the meal is finished, it is necessary to place the fork and knife parallel on the plate. Eating ceremony of Maori society is a bit more complicated: it is leaded by Powhiri and includes the procedure of “blessing the meals”. As a rule, the guests are placed among the locals in order to have a better opportunity to get to know each other (Kwintessential). Thus, New Zealand can offer not only a series of unique tourist attractions, but also great opportunities for businessmen to invest their funds in various developing industries, starting from agriculture and ending with informational technologies.
Such important factors as flourishing economy, transparent governmental system, low risks and sophisticated national infrastructure stimulate and encourage foreign investors to enter local market. However, anyone must remember that working in a foreign business environment “…demands careful preparation, the development of an understanding of the cultural mores and rigorous attention to the subtleties of meaning that lurk behind what is actually being said” (Mackenzie, 20).
“Doing Business in New Zealand. ” Kwintessential. CommunicAid Group Ltd. 24 Mar. 2008 < http://www. kwintessential. co. uk/resources/global-etiquette/new-zealand. html >. “Index of Economic Freedom 2008: New Zealand. ” The Heritage Foundation. 2008. 24 Mar. 2008 <http://www. heritage. org/research/features/index/country. cfm? id=NewZealand>. Mackenzie, Rod. “The US and Us. ” NZ Business Oct. 2000: 18-20. Liu, James H, Tim McCreanor, Tracey McIntosh and Teresia Teaiwa, eds. “New Zealand Identities: Departures and Destinations” Wellington, NZ: Victoria University Press. 2005. “Staring a Business in New Zealand. ” Immigration New Zealand. 2005. 24 Mar. 2008 <http://www. immigration. govt. nz/migrant/stream/invest/startingabusiness/>.
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