When you need to make a good impression with New Zealanders do show an interest in Maori culture; visit a Marae, a sacred place which has both social and religious purpose and observe Maori ceremonies. Make sure you pronounce Maori words correctly; it is a sign of respect.
Do avoid comparisons to Australia when it comes to use of the word ‘mainland’. New Zealanders have personality traits more like the British than they do to Australians. Having said this, do not underestimate the bond between the two countries; as well as forming an important tourism market for one another, there are many shared qualities and ideas, dating back to the spirit of ANZAC at Gallipoli. Immigration, employment and residency are easy between the two countries and both represent important trade partners for one another. It’s best to view the two countries as brothers (or sisters) indulging in sibling rivalry.
Respect the fact that New Zealanders are highly courteous. Like the British, they will stand in line politely and will not push past one another in crowded places. In a shop, the money is placed in the hands of the cashier rather than on the counter, and shopkeepers will always greet visitors.
Do compliment New Zealanders on their beautiful country, their fine wines and their delicious food; they are justifiably proud of all three.
Top 10 essentials when working with New Zealanders:
- Accept that if you come from a fast-paced environment in another country, some New Zealanders may appear to be more relaxed than you are used to.
- The business communities in Auckland and Wellington, however, are fast-paced and energetic.
- Dependability, straight talking, enthusiasm and innovation are important qualities and any business presentation should emphasise these.
- New Zealand is geographically isolated, and the domestic market is very small, but as a country it is outward looking.
- New Zealand is rated by Transparency International as the second-least corrupt nation in the world; openness and honesty are prized.
- Many New Zealanders have similar goals including owning their own home – and often a boat – and to secure a good education for their children, all of which are comparatively easy to achieve.
- Avoid a hard sell; New Zealanders do not appreciate brash behaviour or grandiose claims. Back any presentation up with facts and figures.
- Accept hospitality if it is extended and expect to discuss sport at some point. New Zealanders are very sociable and a drink after work is a good way to get to know your counterparts better.
- Remember that New Zealanders are not only influenced by the ‘old country’; there are large numbers from Southeast Asia living in the cities here and many New Zealanders travel extensively in the Pacific Islands, from where the Maori originated.
- New Zealand may be a small market and its people relaxed and easy-going but do not make unfavourable comparisons with Australia; their cultures are entirely different.
WRITTEN BY SUE BRYANT
Sue Bryant is an award-winning writer and editor specialising in global business culture and travel.
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