New Zealand Culture

Greetings

  • Greetings are usually informal in social settings.
  • First names are commonly used in initial introductions.
  • A handshake is the common greeting between strangers. It should be firm and accompanied by eye contact to reflect confidence.
  • New Zealanders may laugh lightly at the formality of handshakes during introductions.
  • Physical greetings depend on one’s sense of another person’s comfort level.
  • People may hug someone they know when greeting them. Close friends may also kiss one another on the cheek to greet, while others may simply offer a nod.
  • Kia ora” (Key-or-rah) is an informal greeting for “hello” and “thank you”, and can also be a form of acknowledgement.
  • Tēnā koe” (Teh-nah kweh) is a formal greeting to one person, “Tēnā kōrua” (Teh-nah cor-roo-ah) is a formal greeting to two people, and “Tēnā koutou” (Teh-nah co-toe) is a formal greeting to three or more people.
  • Māori ritually greet each other with the hongi. This involves two people pressing their noses and foreheads together, holding each other’s heads, and breathing in simultaneously to share the same moment and breath. This special greeting is generally reserved for formal Māori events.
  • The Māori also perform a pōwhiri welcoming ceremony when guests visit. This involves a traditional challenge to test whether guests are friends or foes, usually followed by a call to welcome, speeches and songs.

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