New Zealanders have a very similar way of life and share values common to most Western countries but there are some special features. ‘Kiwis’ are passionate about sport and have a firm belief in social equality. The social welfare system prevents extreme poverty, and the nation has neither a strong class system nor major social tensions. Some minor ethnic tensions exist, but are low by international standards and goodwill between races is usually evident.
Informality and Friendliness
It is also standard to address all correspondence, and particularly job applications, formally to Mr or Ms or Mrs.
Social Relations at Work
Relations between the sexes are egalitarian. Requests from male staff for their female colleagues to ‘get a cup of tea’ or ‘wash the dishes’, and patronizing or sexually motivated remarks about women or girls, are not acceptable. However, old fashioned courtesies such as opening doors for female colleagues, although no longer standard, are still generally appreciated.
Informality and friendliness also extend to social occasions, and it is common for management to socialize with their staff on equal terms, particularly in small firms, this often extends to entertainment at the manager’s or owner’s home – often barbecue get-togethers held in the summer months. A standard and rather charming feature of working life in New Zealand is ‘Friday Fives’, which generally involves management and staff sharing drinks together in the office after close of work on Friday.
It is not considered polite to spit in the street, or to blow your nose on the pavement. All types of personal violence are frowned upon, for example it is increasingly considered unacceptable to smack or otherwise physically discipline children, and more serious instances of family violence are criminal offences.