New Zealand Traditions

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New Zealand Traditions

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Gift-giving in New Zealand

Gift-giving in New Zealand is a practice that reflects the country’s unique blend of Māori and European cultures. It is a meaningful way to express respect, hospitality, and gratitude, often involving a thoughtful exchange of items that hold cultural significance.

Historical Context

The Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, have a rich tradition of giving gifts, or ‘koha’, as a form of social exchange. Koha traditionally included food, ornaments, or weapons and was given during various ceremonies and social gatherings.

Traditional Gifts 

Pounamu, also known as greenstone or jade, is a traditional gift among the Māori. It is considered a taonga, or treasure, and is often given as a symbol of friendship and respect. Other traditional gifts include woven items, such as flax baskets and mats, which are also deeply rooted in Māori culture.

Gift-Giving Etiquette

When visiting someone’s home in New Zealand, it is customary to bring a small gift, such as flowers, chocolates, or a book about one’s home country. These gifts are typically modest and are opened when received.

Modern Practices 

Modern gift-giving in New Zealand still retains elements of tradition but has also adapted to contemporary life. Gifts are often exchanged during holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations, with an emphasis on personalization and thoughtfulness.

Special Occasions 

Special occasions in New Zealand, such as weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries, are celebrated with gifts that are chosen with care. For Māori events, such as a visit to a marae (meeting grounds), koha is still a significant part of the tradition.


The tradition of gift-giving in New Zealand is a beautiful tapestry of past and present, weaving together the threads of Māori customs and European influences. It is a practice that continues to evolve, yet remains a fundamental expression of the Kiwi spirit of generosity and community.