Traditions of New Zealand

You have likely heard of New Zealand, but one thing you may not know about this young country is that it has exciting traditions, mostly a combination of European and Maori customs that have helped shape the unique people. The following article will outline some of the best and most iconic of these traditions, so you can be as informed as the local Kiwis themselves!

The Haka

This tradition is not new to rugby fans. The All Blacks team from New Zealand has adopted the traditional Maori war dance, called the Haka, and routinely perform this intimidating ritual before matches.This form of dance dates back to the time when the warriors would perform pre-battle cries just to send fear into the heart of the enemy and thus demonstrate how strong they were. Today, you can still witness a live haka dance if you go to the marae or during special Maori celebrations and rituals.

Chocolate Carnival

The world’s steepest street, Baldwin, is a renowned place in Dunedin but what many outsiders may not realize is that this is the venue of the yearly Cadbury Chocolate Carnival. The festivities begin with the rolling of giant Jaffa balls comprising orange chocolate, much loved in New Zealand, down the steep road that comprises this famous street. There are competitions and other activities like choc-filled games and the Crunchie train to entertain everyone present.


The first thing to participate in when you find yourself in a Maori house, their meeting venue or among the tribe is a ceremony known as powhiri. This event involves three warriors who will come up and challenge the guest to find out if he has come into the territory with good intentions or not. A female caller referred to as kaikaranga, then takes the visitor to the warriors after which presentations, traditional songs and various speeches are given and the powhiri finally comes to an end with the hongi.

The Hongi

The hongi, a traditional form of greeting at social events is quite different from a hangi, a traditional food. This kind of customary greeting is represented by the pressing of noses and jamming of foreheads and symbolizes the transfer of the breath of life from one person to another. It is a common custom when the Maori people want to welcome those who are new to the territory and during their ceremonies.

Gumboot Day

In the center of North Island, the small town of Taihape is known as the gumboot hub of the world. Since it began in 1985, the Gumboot Day has been celebrated and often features the gumboot throwing competition. Usually, this festival takes place on the Tuesday after the celebration of Easter, and is a fun-filled event specially tailored for the family. The purpose of the Gumboot Day is to discover who will emerge with the longest gumboot throw making them the winner for that year.  Just a selection of some of the amazing traditions still found in New Zealand.