“Kiwi” Christians, for Better and for Worse

This pastoral passage was originally written for LRBC for 27 November 2022

On my desk for many years a paper cut-out has been gathering dust. On it is an infographic from a New Zealand Herald article I saw sometime in the mid-2010s that I thought was worth printing and keeping hold of for future thought. Unfortunately I did not keep the main text of the article or note the author or date. But the infographic summarised very briefly a study someone had done to distil the essence of New Zealanders’ values.

It was titled Kiwi to the Core: the six values that make us what we are, for better or worse. Each value had two sides; they are described for what they approve as well as for what their downsides can be. Some points could be a little clearer, and some “negatives” will be deemed “positives” by some people.

Here is what they were:

  • Informality: Jack’s as good as his master. Kiwis favour minimum protocol, they are egalitarian, unpretentious and easygoing. Negative: Disrespectful, provincial.
  • Earthy: Get stuck in. A pragmatic, grounded people with a commonsense approach to life and deep connection to the land; sporty, outdoor lifestyle. Negative: Unsophisticated, rough-and-ready.
  • Modesty: Proud is something you’re supposed to whisper. One should be humble, understated and self-effacing. Negative: Dispassionate, unintentionally misleading.
  • Restraint: Tall poppies get mowed. Reserve is not far below the informal exterior. Negative: Conservative, overcautious.
  • Fairness: Fair to a Fault. Kiwis are highly principled and known for integrity and impartiality. Negative: Righteous, hyper-democratic.
  • Ingenuity: No. 8 wire mentality. Known for doing a lot with a little; practical, resourceful. Negative: Unprofessional, “close enough is good enough”.

I wanted to share this as a talking point or food for thought. All of us are immersed in the culture that is New Zealand’s, even if we align ourselves in a particular space within it or consciously embrace or reject elements of these values.

Those of us who come from or have spent time in another culture will see these things with a little more clarity than those of us who have never realised how deeply different other parts of the ancient and worldwide human family can be. While these are worthwhile talking points in their own right, I have chosen to share these for consideration in terms of how they shape the faith of New Zealanders who are Christians.

Consider: How are each of these a strength to Christian faith? How do their negative aspects hinder healthy Christianity? Do feel free to share your thoughts.

Thank you to Geoff New for locating the original article for me – it was originally published in a magazine called “Canvas” which was included in print editions of the NZ Herald. It is included below for interested readers.