Page 8 – Modern society
New Zealand in the world
New Zealand is becoming more closely integrated into a global society. This is sometimes seen as Americanisation, and a departure from the country’s previous reliance on Britain for social and cultural models. Movies and television have been a major influence.
New Zealanders now rarely call England, Ireland or Scotland ‘home’, though this was common until the middle of the 20th century.
Exposure to the outside world increased as overseas travel became more common. In 1950 there were 11 short-term departures per 1,000 population. By 2000 the number had leapt to 355. More than half the short-term departures from New Zealand were for Australia. Young people gaining their ‘OE’ (overseas experience) is an established feature of New Zealand life. London remains the major single destination for young New Zealanders travelling overseas, partly because they can work temporarily in Britain under various schemes.
By 2006 less than 7% of the population was British-born. Although television shows such as Coronation Street and The office are popular, British influences on popular culture – from movies and television to music and fashion – have been largely overtaken by American and, increasingly, global trends. Australian influences are not as great as might be expected, given that the two countries share colonial origins and similar histories.
As the population has become more diverse, Asians and Pacific Islanders have woven new threads into the culture. A large number of young New Zealanders travel and work overseas, many of them teaching English in countries like Japan, Korea and China. This created a channel of influences from those countries to New Zealand.
In the main urban areas, 97% of households have telephones. In rural areas the rate is still well above 90%. In 2006 two-thirds of all private dwellings had access to the internet at home. Almost all children had access to computers at school.
Texting and talking
In 2001, 58% of households had at least one mobile phone, up from only 22% in 1997–98, and by 2008 68% of 12–13 year olds had one. Following many other developed countries, New Zealand banned the use of mobile phones while driving in 2009.
The car and public transport
About 90% of all households have access to at least one motor vehicle. In 2001, two in three New Zealanders travelled to work by car. Only one in 20 walked or ran to work.
Only about 2% of journeys are made by bus, and even fewer by rail. For long-distance public transport, air travel has largely replaced trains, buses and ferries, although vestigial train services survive, and the Wellington–Picton ferry services between the two main islands are important.
New Zealanders love their cars. There are two million vehicles for four million people, making the ownership rate one of the world’s highest – it ranked eighth in 1997, with 560 cars per 1,000 people.
Between 1962 and 1995, the number of recorded offences per 1,000 population increased nearly fourfold.
In 2011 there were almost 8,500 people in the country's 19 prisons. Over half of the prison population were Māori, and around 40% were below the age of 30.