What is Kiwi culture?

The Herald touches on this in an editorial: Laying down law to Muslims.

“No one has really defined what a Kiwi-Muslim is,” says Aliya Danzeisen, one of the founders of the Waikato Muslim Association. “Traditionally we have tried to assimilate; now it’s about integration.”

The distinction between the two terms may be lost on the many New Zealanders who still wrestle with the idea that this country’s demographic make-up has transformed beyond recognition in barely a generation.

I haven’t seen anyone define what a Kiwi-Kiwi is either. People talk of  maintaining “our culture” but never answer the question – what specifically s Kiwi culture?

It is worth asking what the “New Zealand way of life” is: whether it is fixed in a white, Christian past or fluid, constantly evolving as our population changes.

The only certainty is that it is ” fluid, constantly evolving ” – not just as our population changes, but as we change and our own culture evolves.

The cultures of rural Southland is different to the cultures of rural Northland, and both are very different to many of the cultures in between.

My own culture is vastly different to the culture of my first immigrant relatives 160 years ago – and their cultures changed dramatically after they arrived here.

My culture is distinctly different to the culture of my parents and the culture of my childhood, and it’s change a lot since I was a young adult.

Some parts of Kiwi culture I’d rather see consigned to history:

  • culture of violence, of glorifying violence, and of using violence as a primary way of try to resolve things
  • culture of getting pissed out of our tree, making fools of ourselves, and joking about our hangovers the next day
  • culture of pigeonholing politics
  • culture of denigrating whole groups of people because of the actions of a minority
  • culture of eating far too much crap and then shitting ourselves when we see the fat results

That’s just some examples of culture that aren’t so flash, we should always be looking at improving our culture, not maintaining some imaginary ideal that never was and never will be.

Living together means learning respect for the way others do things – not laying down the law about the way an undefined “we” do things here.

We are all different to yesteryear, we are different to our neighbours, and we can all all celebrate our famous Kiwi culture of friendliness to strangers,  our tolerance of being different.

We should all be free to “do our own thing” within the law and with common decency.

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