Guest Post – So what is the New Zealand way?

Andrew Little is saying that excluding Muslims is not the New Zealand Way.  That we pride ourselves on our inclusiveness of others.  In one way he is exactly right.  We do try to be inclusive – that is the New Zealand Way.

We are therefore very protective of what the New Zealand Way means to us.  What are we protecting?  Does that mean that we can pick and choose what bits we do and don’t want?  Or do we take the whole package?

Inclusiveness includes all of us being tolerant caring individuals. We must, and usually do, consider women as equals, we actually don’t care about a person’s religion as long as it isn’t thrust down our throat, we care for those who are old and disabled, and nowadays we actually don’t care if a person is gay, lesbian or whatever – again if it is not pushed on to us.  

Therefore any new migrants have to engage in the totality of the New Zealand way.  They have to buy into the inclusiveness.  They cannot pick and choose which bits they want, just as we have learnt not to.

We are, for instance still embarrassed when interviewers give our public figures a hard time – being kind to people is our instinctive response.  So we are usually offended when our State appears to give our newcomers and visitors a bit of a hard time.  When one watches the reality programmes showing NZ border control, the majority of the time our staff are polite and courteous to some who are extraordinarily aggressive.  There are times I think that the “guest” would be thrown into jail, or put on the next plane out if they spoke to authorities like that in many other countries.  And yet we often automatically feel embarrassed if the “guest” found something to complain about.  We are sometimes too nice.

But the New Zealand way needs to be protected.  I fought hard all my life to be treated as equal to men, and I don’t want to lose ground because we are too embarrassed to state our social requirements of citizenship.

I have people of many different religious beliefs on my team.  Some are Christian, some are Hindu, and some are Muslim.  And who knows what else.  On the whole, I don’t care at all!  Who and how they pray is none of my business.  But out of respect, when we have staff lunches I try to provide suitable food, just as I do if I have a staff member with Coeliac disease, or (in my own case) can’t eat fish!  Respecting one another is the New Zealand Way.  It must be reciprocated.

It is important to have the discussion about what the New Zealand Way really is.  We should use these “interesting times” to cement into our culture what really matters.  The challenge for us is to do this with respect and courtesy, not with anger and hostility.  That is the NZW (NZ Way).  If we are angry we will be heard with anger.  And many won’t listen.  Good communication skills is a two-way process – there is the speaker and the listener.  And the language has to be appropriate to both parties to be understood.

 

– Frances Denz


Frances Denz MNZM

Frances has been instrumental in helping entrrpeneurs establish more than 4000 businesses since 1986. She is an authority on business start-ups and regional economic development and is a keynote speaker at conferences internationally. Frances is the co-founder of Stellaris Ltd and specialises in the small business and government sectors.
In 2013 Frances was honoured by the Queen with Membership of the Order of New Zealand (MNZM) for services to business.

As a Maori woman of Ngati Tuwharetoa and Tainui descent, Frances has worked with many Maori organisations to establish expertise in self-employment. Frances has special interests in the health and horticulture industries. 
She was  the founding chair of the Womens Loan Fund.

Frances is the author of Hope and Rehabilitation, Able to do Business and Women at the Top. She is passionate about encouraging small businesses to establish good governance and management in order to develop into very successful businesses.

 


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