New Zealand has been established as settler society with a sizeable proportion of indigenous Maori population. Owing to its demographic composition and colonial history, it has biculturalism as a founding principle based on the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. The constitution acknowledges the Maori people as the first peoples of the country. The Office of Ethnic Affairs established in 2001 caters to issues pertaining to ethnic minorities and migrants. However, New Zealand has not explicitly affirmed multiculturalism in policies and legislations.
While there is no official affirmation of multiculturalism, many aspects of life in New Zealand are cognizant of the culturally diverse makeup of the society. The national curriculum promotes multiculturalism as a core value and supports bilingual education, and the government supports ethnic representation in media. Although funding for ethnic organisations is limited, the New Zealand government does provide interpretation services to facilitate access to government services, and various community organizations. Other supports for cultural diversity in the country include provisions for equal opportunity in employment, and resources for the promotion of intercultural competence and cross-cultural dialogue.
New Zealand has achieved an overall ICDI score of 0.699. Scores above 0.7 in the components of attitudes, inclusion, freedom, and rights indicate a high degree of minority representation and a favourable attitude towards different cultures. On the other hand, lower scores in the components of social contact, socio-economic inequality and access to communication indicate a weaker structural foundation, which diminish the possibility and opportunities for intergroup contact. New Zealand scores moderately in the components of multiculturalism and anti-discrimination which signals that a relatively positive legislative environment.
Current Situation and Outlook
Compared to its positive situation in the legislative and intercultural opportunities dimensions, New Zealand achieves a relatively lower score in the structural dimension. New Zealand’s ICDI score could improve if more attention is provided to increasing intercultural opportunities for the population to engage in intergroup interactions.