At dinner parties it is customary for guests to bring a bottle of wine. It is also common, but not obligatory, to ask “Is there anything I can bring?” Often, the hosts will decline the offer, but sometimes they will suggest that you bring pre-dinner snacks, a salad, a dessert or perhaps after-dinner mints.
Sometimes guests will be asked to ‘bring a plate’. This is a local phrase that means ‘bring some food’. It does not mean that you give a plate to the hosts. If you are asked to ‘bring a plate’, it is best to ask what sort of food is expected since this will vary depending on the event.
Parties and ‘Do’
If someone says “We’re having a ‘do’, and hope you can come”, this means you are invited to a party! If it is a ‘do’ for your workplace, then it is customary for the management to supply food and drink. If it is a party organized by a club or group of friends, then it is likely that everyone will bring a share of the food and drink, or will ‘chip in’ (contribute their share to pay for it). If you are unsure what is expected, do ask – New Zealand customs are very flexible, so ‘the locals’ often have to ask questions as well!
New Zealand weddings are generally less formal than in other Western countries, but this is not always the case. If you are unsure what to expect, do not be afraid to ask!
New migrants are often startled by the informality of some New Zealand funerals. Personalized funerals designed in line with family wishes, and which follow no particular liturgy, have become increasingly popular. Solemnity and grieving is often combined with ‘celebrating the life’ of the deceased, and lighter moments are now a feature of most funerals.
Formal dress is not obligatory and semi-formal dress increasingly common. An important exception to this pattern is the tangi, the traditional Maori funeral. These are solemn rituals at which marae protocol is strictly observed.
New Zealand celebrates 11 public holidays a year, on days of national, religious or cultural significance. Every person is entitled to these 11 days’ holiday.
The National Anthem
New Zealand’s National Anthem is sung at many formal and sporting occasions. New Zealand holds a unique position in the world in that it has two national anthems of equal standing – ‘God Defend New Zealand’ and ‘God Save The Queen’. Both of these anthems have origins which have been inspired by the fire of patriotism yet were written under markedly different situations.
Words to God Defend New Zealand
God of Nations at Thy feet, In the bonds of love we meet, Hear our voices, we entreat, God defend our free land. Guard Pacific’s triple star From the shafts of strife and war, Make her praises heard afar, God defend New Zealand.
Men of every creed and race, Gather here before Thy face, Asking Thee to bless this place, God defend our free land. From dissension, envy, hate, And corruption guard our State, Make our country good and great, God defend New Zealand.
Peace, not war, shall be our boast, But, should foes assail our coast, Make us then a mighty host, God defend our free land. Lord of battles in Thy might, Put our enemies to flight, Let our cause be just and right, God defend New Zealand.
Let our love for Thee increase, May Thy blessings never cease, Give us plenty, give us peace, God defend our free land. From dishonour and from shame, Guard our country’s spotless name, Crown her with immortal fame, God defend New Zealand.
May our mountains ever be Freedoms ramparts on the sea, Make us faithful unto Thee, God defend our free land. Guide her in the nations’ van, Preaching love and truth to man, Working out Thy glorious plan, God defend New Zealand.
Words to God Save The Queen
God save our gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen, God save The Queen. Send her victorious, Happy and glorious, Long to reign over us: God save The Queen.
O Lord our God, arise, Scatter our enemies, And make them fall; Confound their politics, Frustrate their knavish tricks; On thee our hopes we fix: God save us all.
Thy choicest gifts in store On her be pleased to pour, Long may she reign. May she defend our laws, And ever give us cause To sing with heart and voice, God save The Queen.