Traditional Value-Systems

A New Zealand Perspective On Inglehart’s World Model Of Modernization And The Unexpected Persistence Of Traditional Value-Systems
Ronald Inglehart, the propounder of a modernization theory which combines economic development and cultural change in a “coherent theory” of overall change, as recently as 1993 put forward a model of “post-modernization”. Modernization is a culture-shift arising from the interaction of Traditional to Rational-Legal systems and Scarcity-Wellbeing conditions. These coalesce as postmodern, bureaucratic, secular, democratic, ‘wealthy’ countries and hierarchical, authoritarian, traditionalist, absolutist, ‘poor’ countries. The values characteristic of a society is systematically related to these conditions of societal organization. The Postmodern shift includes democratic political institutions and such values as women’s rights, euthanasia rights, acceptance of divorce and abortion, equality, representative legislation, free speech, individuality, self-expression, political freedoms and human rights, and so on.

In a more recent development, Inglehart has had to deal with a surprising empirical finding: briefly, the persistence of traditional value-systems. Put briefly, this is the finding that economic modernity does not, as commonly expected, wash out the underlying cultural mindsets and habits of thought of cultural zones initially instilled by the historic religions in which countries had their birth. It became evident that there is no deterministic development from economic development alone to a normative postmodernity. Traditional and religiously-based value-systems persist in the context of economic modernization. This remains so despite the decline of traditional and religious practice and the use of related institutions such as temples and churches. The assumption that modernization will automatically bring a secular Western civilization style is now widely questioned. The cultural mindset is deep-rooted in the habits of a country.

Such a finding cannot, of course, be theoretically without problems. It is based on a powerful and unprecedented research model involving ‘countries as cases’. It became possible as a result of the again unprecedented number of countries in the World Values Surveys. Whereas survey research has in the past depended upon individual samples of individuals representing a limited range of social conditions, the world project has sampled whole countries so as to generalise to and to compare whole countries. Countries are measured and labelled – traditional, survivalist, democratic, egalitarian etc. – allowing analyses of long-term change across cultures. As with most macro-analyses, the problem of labelling and measurement is substantial. Much of it has been developed by Professor Inglehart at the University of Michigan and an international team of collaborators.

The World Values Survey, especially as represented by the work of Inglehart’s team, is a massive empirical overview of cultural change over time and differing historical conditions. The resultant published results leave little doubt that, even given the methodological difficulties, a major explanatory model for cultural change has emerged. The fact that these results now cover over 60 countries opens up a vast new era of understanding of culture-processes. Homogeneity or generality under the selected rubric is an assumption of the method.

In the New Zealand Study of Values, we began to see the need to test the assumption of homogeneity within a country, e.g. Is New Zealand just a Pacific version of the European Protestant Cultural Zone? Homogeneity or at least wide generality or primacy of a cultural value-system is an implication of the argument for definable cultural zones. The existence of multi-culturalism within countries, however, demands attention. Are there countries which overlap into several ‘cultural zones’? Single descriptors, or general attributes of single countries, powerful and useful as they undoubtedly are, may not account for the whole cultural reality. To use a well-accepted social research principle, we have to consider the unexplained variance. What spills over from the data after the main effects are teased out?

In this respect, the Maori case must be considered. Is it too simple to say that Maori, being ‘less developed’ on standard social indicators, fit the culture-shift model but are simply behind – part of the same railway train as it were? Why would it not be that in the case of the Maori, the traditional value-system, which is persistent as noted above, is resistant to fundamental assumptions of the world model? Doesn’t the logic of Inglehart’s own finding suggest multiple cultural realities, denying the single country designation?

The persistence of religious and traditional culture among Maori, and also their greater resistance, according to our data, to macro-values such as economic growth, to individual land ownership and even to democracy itself, with a highly traditional demand for respect to parents and a variety of communal life-habits and problem-solving traditions, quite apart from a pervasive spirituality, seems to demand something more than a single designation for the country. Our leaning in the NZ Values Study has been toward New Zealand as not only multi-cultural but as a microcosm of major world value-cultures. An example might be the growth motive itself, uncongenial to traditional Maori. A further example could be the importance of community – the fact of cultural identity as a community. These two together give rise to a different motivation for work than characterises individualistic Westerners. Maori are also said to be traditionalist and in various ways autocratic and absolutist, with a powerful underpinning of God-belief and kin-spirit consciousness.

A dominant value of New Zealanders is captured in the phrase “one people”. The uniformity espoused in that term is in many countries achieved through repression. This is the history of colonization, as familiar in New Zealand as in a somewhat older South Africa. The alternative to such an enforced uniformity is the rise of the people’s movement, aimed at restoration of diversity based on respect for traditions. Our national obsession with forcing Maori and other traditional cultures into a uniform postmodernity might be seen as a narrow generalization from our historic Protestant capitalist model. The whole argument over monetarism stemmed from an underground refusal to value people only on grounds of competitive participation in a market economy. A form of recognition of the identity of Maori has been grudgingly conceded but the dominant culture nevertheless betrays its own individualistic roots by its knee-jerk denigration of Maori economic, social and spiritual values.

We must acknowledge with Inglehart that proponents of the view that cultural traditions are enduring, such as Huntingdon, Fukuyama and Putnam, have established part of the case. The competing case is that of materialist modernization theory as in Marx, Weber and Bell, whose models are deterministic: economic development is the sufficient explanation of culture-shift. Inglehart simply observes from the massive world values data that both phenomena occur: economic development leads to predictable changes away from absolute social norms toward increasingly rational, tolerant, trusting and Postmodern value-systems. Economic failure links with the opposite value-shifts. Postmodern values are consequences of and supportive conditions of economic development. The rational model must be complemented by the cultural model.

In short, the further source of variation from straight-line economically determined modernization lies in the fact that underlying strata of culture lend to countries ingrained cultural patterns that are independent of simple economic determinants yet highly influential in economic and political life. An almost triumphalist capitalist mode has assumed that the traditional elements will gradually wash out as the advantages of individualistic materialist capitalism create changed life-patterns. Capitalist, inner-circle countries have long counted on that as being the case. The recent findings place this comforting view in a new light. Habitual, centuries-long life-patterns and mind-sets, taking the form of cultural zones turn out to be recognizably traditional Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, Islamic, Confucian or Hindu, persisting, at least in the more modern countries, beyond the decline of traditional religious practices. It may be assumed that as each country modernizes it will display the same dynamic. The traditional values persist despite the surface changes necessary to participation in the practicalities of modern economic and social technologies. So the zones persist. And we might well ask, why not a Pacific Zone?

Traditional value-systems persist and are themselves necessary to the explanation of variability of outcome. Statistically, these culture-patterns, including traditional and religious, persist even when the effects of economic development are controlled. As Inglehart sees it, these cultural zones are robust and they are linked to distinctive political behaviours. For example, the overpowering expectation of Pacific people in New Zealand that government will be responsible for their wellbeing, while seen by the political right as ideologically induced, is a traditional view rooted in hierarchical Pacific cultures and not to be argued away or legislated out of existence.

The world is replete with examples. But do they prove homogeneity within countries? Our argument is that these zones constitute major components of cultures not only across countries, but also within countries, thus demanding, at least in New Zealand, something more than a convenient designation as another example of ‘European Protestantism with a lagging indigenous culture’. Enduring cultural traits affect the political and economic performance of countries. To define the issues as merely legalistic and material is to do an injustice to their fundamental nature. Religion, as one major cultural dimension, is found to be a major factor underlying cultural differences. This is despite the fact that in Europe support for institutional religion has plummeted. Historical traditions and religions lend a character to contemporary cultures that survives economic change and only partly overlaps with geographic location.

The World Values Survey researchers defined these dimensions empirically from factor-analyses of the 300+ value questions.

The Traditional-Rational Dimension comprised many items of which these were most predictive:

1. Belief in the importance of God
2. Non-justifiability of divorce
3. Strong sense of national pride
4. Favour increased respect for authority
5. Aversion to discussion of politics
The Survival Values emphasized:

Dissatisfaction with life
Personal (un)happiness
Priority of economic and physical security
Non-justifiability of homosexuality
Caution about trusting people
The Affluent or Post-Material values were the opposite of the Survivalist. These are used to test the general hypothesis of location according to the global model.

Positions of Sixty Societies on Two Dimensions of Cross-Cultural Variation

Plots of the 60+ countries on the above two dimensions showed up a diagonal from poor to rich. That is to say, when countries are plotted on the two values dimensions their locations group them into zones that coincide with the historical spheres of influence associated with their dominant religious history. There is, most noticeably, a dominant Protestant cultural system, broadly like that found in Europe by Weber. There are, however, varied mixes showing that the more fully countries are characterised by the two respective dimensions, the more completely the country falls into a zone location. Thus, to be found empirically both rational-bureaucratic and wellbeing-affluent locates a country within the Protestant cultural zone.

Countries that fell into the Protestant zone in values terms included all of Northern Europe, the Scandinavian group, Japan (although with persistent elements of Confucianism), and the Anglo-American countries. But the USA does turn out to be more toward the traditional than the secular-rational extreme and thus is not fully typical of or representative of the Protestant zone per se. Which is to say that insofar as cultural zones point to probable futures, the USA and Protestant Europe will be led by somewhat conflicting values. This shows up on issues like abortion and the death penalty as well as the American presumptions based on their self-interest in international affairs. Countries at the opposite diagonal include Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, South Africa, and marginally India and Turkey. Traditionalism and survivalist mentality are broadly characteristic. The element of trust is only one typical influential point of potential difficulty.

Partial movement is also apparent. Thus the relative weakness of the Orthodox zone in survival-wellbeing values contributes to its being fairly rational in bureaucratic terms. Economic weakness, as in the former Communist-bloc countries, seems to demand bureaucratic control if they aim to compete with more advanced countries. When unaccustomed wealth occurs in countries of the Islamic zone, with little cultural affinity with the Western affluent, Postmodern condition, the attempt to compete is blurred by both the low levels of such values as trust and the attitudes of freedom and equality that permeate Western relations. Strategic compromise occurs but the underlying traditional culture or mindset remains powerful.

The more distinctive values of the European Protestant zone included responsibility, acceptance of change, divorce OK, trust in people, independence, homosexuality OK, tolerance and imagination.

By contrast, the values of the ‘poor’ zone, with traditional authority and long-term scarcity, were strongly for unquestioned respect for parents, good-evil absolutes, respect for authority, jobs to one’s own nationality, and trust in science. The latter reflects a drive for Western-style industrial progress, but is abrasive in relation to such things as human rights.

Locations of Religious Groups within Given Countries on the Global Cultural Map

Religious affiliations are associated in the global model with particular locations created by combinations of traditional-rational and survival-wellbeing conditions. While the poor to rich diagonal still predominates, religious groups lie in different locations within countries. Thus in Protestant Europe, Protestant groups are somewhat more advanced than the Catholic. Needless to say, these European Catholic groups are in advance of religious groups in all other countries. The world Catholic ‘zone’ ranges across (Old Catholic) Europe, and Latin America.

In the poor world on the global cultural map, the poorest are Islamic, some Orthodox, and areas of Hindu predominance.

In all of these, the value-systems of the cultural zones persist independent of present or recent economic development. More importantly, as the next section shows, key values such as interpersonal trust, important to economic development, are linked to the religious zones, for example high-trust Protestant and low-trust Islamic.

Interpersonal Trust by Cultural Tradition and Level of Economic Development with Religious Tradition

Cultural traditions are almost entirely located within zones defined by trust and purchasing power. The powerful definition of the low-trust, low-GNP Islamic and Orthodox zones, along with Latin America, compared with the more advanced Catholic countries of France, Austria, Italy, Belgium and Spain demonstrates the model: development moves slowly toward the rational-affluent quadrant; trust is one of the persistent attributes, affecting and affected by economic development; Confucianism within the Historically Protestant zone demonstrates the independence of the cultural factor. It persists, as in the case of Japan, while economic development rises in accord with the larger opportunity system. Nevertheless, the habits of the past continue to shape the ways in which the respective peoples participate.

The relation of trust to GNP per capita is such that these two factors locate the countries in much the same way as the rational-bureaucratic by economic well-being interaction. Thus, in the low-trust, low-GNP zone are empirically found Islamic countries and many of the old Eastern Europe, Slavic and poor African countries. Interestingly, the large Old-Catholic concentration is characterised by low trust even with, as in the case of France, Spain and Austria, relatively strong spending power. Comparison with Protestant Scandinavia, however, suggests a slowing-up Catholic effect. But other values such as independence and individuality are also apparently effective, in favour of the European Protestant zone.

Cultural Variation Between Rich and Poor Within Given Countries, in Global Perspective

A display of rich and poor within the Protestant Europe, Catholic Europe, Orthodox, Islamic and English-speaking zones showed that with few exceptions, rich groups compared with less rich, were at a slightly more advanced level within countries on the indicative cultural values. Thus a perceptible ‘flow’ exists within countries, tending toward the rational-bureaucratic-wellbeing value-systems.

The opposite is, of course, also true: poverty within countries is accompanied relatively more by the cultural values of the poor world. Presumably, however, there is a ‘breaking point’ below which the conditions that have accompanied and necessitated the traditional culture and its values allow very little cultural flexibility. Whether this allows for change simply through either rationalistic or wellbeing innovations is open to severe question. This is what might be termed ‘abject poverty’: it is a spiritual and cultural condition. Inglehart does not raise that question.

Tradition and survival mentalities maintain their own evolutionary integrity. They are partially independent of economic location. The rich and the poor within countries are both affected by economic conditions but are more similar to their own cultural peers than to those in other countries with equal wealth. Thus, cultural values function somewhat independently of relative wealth. Differences in values between rich and poor do have effects within countries but overall tradition changes only slowly.

Survival/PostModern Values and Freedom House Political Rights and Civil Liberties Ratings

Analysis of the interactive effects of Survival/Postmodern values and empirical country levels on the Civil Liberties and Political Rights scores tracked from 1972 to 1997 shows that the ‘rights’ ratings are indicators of the Traditional to Rational-Secular dimension. In other words, when plotted with the Survival to Wellbeing scores, they locate countries in the same way as the two main cultural dimensions discussed. This simply confirms what has underlain the whole set of analyses. Thus, certain coherent groupings of countries come together as a function of both their political and human ideals and at the same time their location on the conditions of existence as measured by the dimension of Survival vs Postmodernity.

It would appear that the sources of effects cannot easily be separated: the traditional to secular-rational condition combines with the scarcity to affluent-postmodern condition to locate countries on a depth-cultural terrain which has its own relative desirability.
Some idea, in simple terms, of what this means can be gained from noting the countries that fall to the ‘south and north’ of Turkey as an approximate midpoint on a derived rights-postmodernity continuum.

To the ‘South’, in increasing distance from Turkey are such as S. Korea, Peru, Bangladesh, Poland, Taiwan, South Africa, Croatia, Nigeria, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Azerbaijan.
To the ‘North’, in increasing distance from Turkey, lie Chile, Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, India, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Japan, Britain, W. Germany, Canada, Belgium, Finland, USA, Australia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands.
The cultural zones, with traditionalism and religious history apparent, are easily discerned, e.g. an East-Europe group, an Old-Catholic Spanish-origin group, and a European Protestant group.

The persistence of tradition, especially the religious tradition, distinguishes abiding value-systems, and it is necessary to respect and understand those traditions. Development requires a more commodious definition, one which helps rather than undermines people’s habitual ways of operating. Survival mentality seems to be demoralising in a world of uniform criteria. Rather than assume a single meaning of well-being and a rational solution to traditionalism, these results offer acceptance of diversity. If ‘progress’ of a humane kind is to be attained, acceptance of tradition tempered by human values must prevail.

Mere survival will not lead to peace. Nor will insistence on the absolute authority of one’s country’s tradition be sufficient for human progress. In the end, the hardest work is only just being defined by this research: the work of enhancing traditions that accord full rights to other people and the work of ensuring that people have a chance to live above a minimal level, i.e. the level below which humane behaviour is under severe pressure. Both survival and tradition are in focus here, as each demands attention, the one for reasons of humane values, the other for wisdom in regard to human complexity.

This paper has employed Inglehart’s claim that there is a general persistence of value-cultures that is affected by changes in real conditions of existence. Thus the concept of modernity. Importantly, however, it has been found empirically that a significant component of traditional and religious values persist independent of economic change. There can be little doubt that this holds true in New Zealand. Our question is whether the Inglehart generalization does justice to the emergent diversity of New Zealand culture.


One way to examine this question is by time-comparisons on selected values across the years 1985 to 1998 of the New Zealand data. The following observations come out of the 1985, 1989 and 1998 NZ values data:

Happiness: 95% in 1998 claimed to be happy – one in three “very happy”. The proportion “very happy” increased from 28% in 1985 to 33% in 1998.

Trust: 48% in 1998 claimed to trust other people. This is an increase from 37% in 1989. In both cases, this places New Zealand among relatively high-trust countries. There seems to have been a general increase also.

Environmental values: The percent seeing protection of the environment as “an urgent and immediate problem” has fallen from 84% to 73% – still high, but raises questions.

Life-satisfaction: High life-satisfaction (6-10), dropped slightly from 93.7% in 1989 to 84% in 1998. The percent dissatisfied with life increased over the decade from one in fifteen to one in seven.

Traditional patriotism; willingness to fight for country: A clear decline from 60% in 1985 to 49% in 1998. The “don’t knows” increased slightly, from 23% to 25%.

Traditional Family; child needs both mother and father to grow up happily: Strong agreement both 1989 and 1998 but clear decrease, from 82% to 74%.

Social Policy:

Increase police powers: steady at over 80%

Stricter controls on pornographic materials: steady around 70%

Declare NZ a republic: doubled, 16% to 32%

Economic policy:

Govt own big industries: steady at around 30%

Tighter regulation big companies, int’ls: steady around 54%

Redistrib income in favour of less well-off: slight increase, 42% – 46% – fewer against: 34% to 28%

Maori special land/fishing rights: steady round 16%

Country run by a few big interests: increase from 54% to 69%

Well-being in terms of happiness, trust and life-satisfaction remained high or higher over the decade. Trust was relatively high in international terms. But wellbeing as perception of justice issues was less stable, with moderate to strong numbers wanting social regulation of major business and greater social responsibility for material equality. Considerable majorities saw large money interests as controlling the country. The response is to want greater government regulation and redistribution. The country is divided, however, on state ownership.

Traditionalism increased in terms of moral protection, parental responsibility and patriotism. In terms of modernity, there is a continuing feeling of insecurity that makes our membership of the high wellbeing country list somewhat questionable in real material terms. In other words, modernity defined by Inglehart in postmaterialist terms is not fully assured when such concerns as are noted continue.

In such a values-context, there will be, and indeed there is, sustained strife over rights, needs and government responsibility. Both traditionalism and survivalism will compete with postmaterialist thinking, especially about resource management. The very concept of postmaterialism is, of course, foreign to the practical-minded Kiwi. The decade decline in environmental consciousness indicates the tentativeness of the New Zealand commitment to her ‘clean-green image’. Environmentalism struggles when something as simple as the Kyoto Accord or the animal pollution tax is regarded simply in terms of its immediate material cost and is argued to threaten the assumption that there is a God-given right to consumption and control of the natural wealth of the land.

In short, there are indications keyed to World Values that New Zealand is not easily defined as say a ‘European Protestant Cultural Zone’ country. The dominant culture, the ‘New Zealanders’, could easily be seen as ‘Protestant’ in those terms, but the poor and especially the Maori and Pacific People, are in the more traditionalist camp, threatened, isolated but communalistic. The Asian segment, however, whilst being traditional in social habits, are adaptive to a rational-legal system model and a competitive materialism that can easily assume the attributes of increasing wellbeing.

Advanced Education as a Cultural Division.

In terms of the argument for a multicultural New Zealand, as against a one-word label such as ‘post-colonial Protestant’, the empirical question was asked whether there is a values-pattern of the well-educated in New Zealand. Does education describe a culture-gap, in the sense of CP Snow’s Two Cultures analysis of English society?

The values of the 17% who had completed a university education were compared with ‘the rest’. [The difference is shown in parentheses, so that (+18%) after city dwellers means that 18% more tertiary educated were city dwellers.] It is to be noted that many more, especially females, now at least attend university papers than in this national sample of completed tertiary educated.

The tertiary-educated were: (Negative percents in bold)

Ö more city-dwellers (+18%);

Ö more confident in community organizations (+12%);

Ö more morally flexible as indicated by viewing homosexuality as justifiable (+20%);

Ö less traditional in child-rearing, eg less demanding of good manners (-15%) and thrift (-15%) but more emphasis on determination and perseverance (+18%) and on imagination (16%);

Ö more in support of environmental values [environment priority over economic growth, +26%; would pay more tax to protect environment (+16%)]

Ö Govt spending maintain govt spending on unemployment (61%); and health (91%)

Ö Human rights: freedom of speech (+1%), a more humane society (+11%)

Ö Local Govt responsibility: decent living standards for old (-26%), reduce income differences (-23%), provide jobs for all who want them (-18%), control prices (-30%)

Ö Life quality: greater respect for authority in future(-16%), highly satisfied with life (-11%)

Ö political system: democratic system lacks order (-10%), democratic system good (+18%), democracy a better system (+17%)

Ö resource protection: strict limits on immigration (-13%), stricter limits on imports (-27%), immigrants come if jobs available (+14%), jobs to New Zealanders over immigrants (-19%)

Ö social capital: must be careful about trusting people (-20%), gradual reform best for social change (+18%), have confidence in government (+10%)

Ö Treaty equity: deal with Treaty as now (+23%), Treaty should be abolished (-16%), radical Maori activist least-liked group, more or less in favour of special Maori land and fishing rights (+13%)

Ö Work attitudes: good job security important in a job (-17%), Opportunity to use initiative important in job (+13%), A feeling of accomplishment is important in a job (+21%)

The question whether the tertiary-educated sector reflects the Protestant cultural zone virtually answers itself. Almost every item in the list conforms to the world model of Inglehart, i.e. the 17% tertiary educated seem to fit the mould of the European Protestant in Inglehart’s terms. This does not exactly establish the case for New Zealand being one of the rational postmodern families of cultures as it leaves more than 80% unlocated. What it does do is to show how powerfully education shapes the culture of a fortunate minority. This sample represents the New Zealand from which come today’s much more educationally switched-on younger generation. Thus, in a peculiar sense, what we see today is the realization of what was throughout inherent in the deeper cultural heritage.

It might be born in mind, therefore, that gender disparities in educational aspirations and attainment might disguise a deeper cultural effect in New Zealand. The latest (September, 2003) OECD report, Education at a Glance, has revealed the dramatic worldwide reversal of gender success in education generally and in tertiary education in particular. Females out-achieve males in virtually all subjects worldwide. Coupled with this is the difference in confidence and career aspirations of females. The differences hold across the 47 countries of the report. A link with the World Values Survey would be reasonable to expect.

The OECD Report makes no suggestion as to the underlying causes of the reported gender disparities. It could be noted that in New Zealand, a country warmly praised for its current tertiary system in terms of proportion of young people enrolled, there is more than a little suggestion that female values are more directed to education than are the male. Following the theme of this paper, that the deeper roots of country cultural trends lie in early, religiously cemented value-systems, it is to be expected that the original values-culture of New Zealand would contain the seeds of today’s gender disparities in education. We look at that possibility:

Examination of the 1998 NZ Values data by a simple gender comparison, reveals the following

Male preponderances: (strength of difference over females)

More emphasis on technological development (30% difference)
Technology emphasis over tradition (27% difference)
Opportunity to use initiative in job, important (21% difference)
Good pay most important in job (15% difference)
Female preponderances: (strength of differences over males)

Strongly disagree men make better political leaders (31% difference)
Strongly disagree Uni educ more important for boys (37% difference)
Greatly increase govt spending on education (24% difference)
Woman needs children to be fulfilled: not necessary (23% difference)
Less emphasis on money a good thing (23% difference)
Religion important in life (20% difference)
Feeling of accomplishment in job most important (19% difference)
Good hours important in job (16% difference)
Homosexuality justifiable (12% difference)
The patterns of the genders need little comment. The reality of gender-based cultures is self-evident. In modern terms, the New Zealand male inherits a severely practical and in the sense of a literate citizenry, a conservative and largely anti-educational history. It appears then that if the less educated tend to hold the opposite-to-Protestant-ethic values, as the comparisons in Inglehart would suggest, then a case might be made for a dividedly multicultural New Zealand on educational grounds alone.

In short, the more clearly ‘Protestant culture’ of New Zealand owes more to females than males. Coupled with gender, and bearing in mind the two to one church attendance of females over males, suggesting male discomfort with abstract, ambiguous verbal communication, the educational disparities in New Zealand make for a much more disjointed country than Inglehart’s model might suggest for any advanced country. The gender cultures of New Zealand, the ‘Venus vs Mars’ myth, coupled with the education effect on culture, become a major part of the multicultural warp of New Zealand.

In light of the above, the list of traditional and survivalist values of the non-tertiary-educated as found in the New Zealand Values Study would read fairly convincingly: –

less confidence in community organizations
traditional sexual mores
traditional indoctrination of children
economistic attitudes to environment
strong emphasis on health services
local government responsibility for wellbeing, and jobs
emphasis on more respect for authority
less trust in democratic political systems
resistance to immigration and foreign imports
lower trust in people
resistance to Treaty claims
job security over initiative and accomplishment.
It would seem to follow that if, in Inglehart’s terms, the culture zone arises from old customs – as old as the religious origins of the habits of mind – then it is more diversity than uniformity that New Zealand has inherited. And this would follow from the processes set in train in early colonization. Not only was the policy of the New Zealand Company one of taking a slice of British society, but the high value put on land deliberately prevented the poorer classes and Maori from owning too much land. So a hierarchy of land-ownership and wealth was followed by social standing. There would follow a functional and privilege-based division of education in the economy. Since those effects were even stronger for Maori, it is to be expected that the cultural zones will be deep-rooted for both the working classes in general and Maori in particular. The Protestant zone in New Zealand is perhaps a much more mixed blessing than the term might suggest.

Treaty of Waitangi as a Cultural Division

To test whether there were real cultural differences (real in practical values terms) across ethnic cultures in New Zealand, comparisons of values were made between those who claimed primary Maori identity, (6%), those ethnic Maori who identified as “New Zealander, (6%), and those Europeans who identified as New Zealander (41%).

Ö Personal value differences of the Maori identifiers were: less preference for understanding others in relationship, more emphasis on expressing own feelings, insistence on always respecting parents, and God very important in life. These are consistently traditional values.

Ö Social values of the Maori identifiers were for land and fishing rights, strengthening the Treaty, gradual change by reforms, and the importance of community organizations in life. These are largely survival-wellbeing values.

Ö Public values of the Maori identifiers were relatively low belief in a democratic political system (45%, as against 86% of those who identified as ‘New Zealanders’), and much lower belief in a high-growth national goal (33% vs 63%). Again largely survival-wellbeing values.

The clear traditionalist dimension coupled with the survivalist themes revolving around the Treaty and the democratic system model with its implicit challenge to absolutist traditions point to a culture gap in world-system terms.

A further comparison of those who strongly support special land and fishing rights for Maori with the moderate support group and those against, revealed again the rational-traditional and survivalist-wellbeing themes. Major differences of the special rights group included strengthening the Treaty, confidence in community organizations, Government spending on unemployment assistance, redistribution of wealth, greatly increased government spending on the environment, strong preference for declaring New Zealand a republic, the view that the democratic system leads to a bad economy, government responsibility to reduce income differences, government responsibility for providing jobs for all who want them, and government responsibility to assure decent housing for all.

The culture division displayed can be summed up briefly.

Positively associated with special Maori resource rights are:

Primary Maori identity
The Treaty of Waitangi as fundamental to the country of New Zealand
The deprivatory consequences of alienation and confiscations
Responsibility of Government for essentials of wellbeing
Major political-economic changes in education rights, environmental spending, prohibition of immigration, NZ as a republic, and recognition of the limits of democracy as an instrument for assuring rights.
This list reflects the traditionalist/survivalist culture

Negatively associated with special Maori resource rights are:

Right-wing activists
Non-Maori New Zealander identifiers
Supporters of high economic growth as a national goal
Proponents of greater limits on Maori claims under the Treaty
Believers in human mastery of nature
Proponents of greater respect for authority in future society
Those with substantial confidence in the Police
This list reflects the rational-bureaucratic-legal/affluent culture that is dominant in New Zealand. Together the lists suggest that the major factor in the multicultural reality of New Zealand is land: inherited, or rendered a commodity. The spiritual core of the division lies in the fact that for the affluent, postmodern sector, the people own the land; for the Maori, the land owns the people.


A case may be made for a modification of the already-revised modernization model. It is that New Zealand may be seen as only somewhat superficially an advanced country in terms of the values-system that supports the economy. Besides the festering sore of land rights, several powerful cultural strands go together to make for a much more complex reality than that of a simple South Seas version of a European Protestant cultural zone. Those strands are ethnic culture, education and gender, each of which leaves the traditional, technocrat male isolated and defensive against change.

The new force is the emergence of the educated woman, noting the OECD report on gender disparities, the renascent Maori culture, along with the different traditionalisms of Maori, the Pacific Peoples in New Zealand, and the Asian community with its mutuality of support for achievement through education of the young. Just as in the USA, where the Latino populations along with the Black are steadily pushing the whites into minority status, so in New Zealand, the sheer numbers of Maori and Polynesians are set to equal the whites by mid-century. More than the USA, however, which makes American uniformity a national religion, this is accompanied by cultural division.

The term division, rather than simple diversity, registers the fact that it is a Pacific Cultural Zone, every bit as substantial as the zones Inglehart described for the rest of the globe, which claims recognition as a long-standing cultural reality, based as firmly in tradition as the Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Confucian and Islamic cultures already recognized. And just as is the case with those other zones, the Pacific Cultural Zone exists geographically alongside the apparently more powerful economic system created by the European Protestant tradition. It cannot be argued that in economic terms, the ‘Pacific Cultural Zone’ is the dominant force, nor indeed that given Australia’s greater numbers, there is any competition for some sort of Protestant Zone economic mastery of the region. But there is a Pacific People’s dimension that reflects the very factor whose existence surprised Inglehart and his colleagues. It is the persistence of traditional and religious roots independent of modernization – a persistent traditional value-system. Experience of the religious and spiritual thread that runs through the present-day Polynesian (including Maori) cultures provides more than a suggestion that a distinct form of traditionalism is to be recognized if contemporary Polynesian and Maori culture are to be adequately delineated.

On the other side of the coin in New Zealand, the settlers’ monocultural culture of farming reflects the limits of male control, threatened by economic change, cultural flexibility and female educational superiority. The future looks to be different from that on which the agricultural self-image has depended. Oddly, the economic success of the agricultural sector has not, in New Zealand, brought with it a commensurate climb in cultural capital. It is an odd competition for economic dominance in spite of cultural backwardness ‚ a disjunction between buying power and cultural development. The traditional recourse of the New Zealand young male to a basically technical and agriculturally-related career has diminished as farms amalgamate, the economy diversifies and the opportunities for a simple practical career for young males decline. This is the culture where, until fairly recently, farm males were substantially less educated than the farm-raised females, the real reason being at least in part that seeing the girls would not take over the farm, they would need an education – preferably nursing or teaching. Many, of course, graduated from that educational boost, to becoming farmers’ wives. But the male-female educational gap lasted.

For the males, while in the past the place of the young male in the agricultural setting was well-defined, that has not for some time been secure. A meaningful traditional-male alternative is looking less and less convincing. Substitutes for patriarchal male lifestyles depend upon saturation advertising of male-ego-massaging vehicles, upon technology and upon its social concomitant, legalized violence parading as ‘sport’. The resultant male ego is pathetically dependent upon these boosters, but without them, as in the classroom and in verbal communication environments, is sadly lonely. The word ethics would raise a guffaw in the context of doing what it takes to win. In this context, younger females are confident while the young males, far less verbal and less socially adept, are under pressure. They ‘play the game’ with the boys, but can out-talk and out-skill them and are more than ever ‘mistresses of their own futures’.

It is not surprising that the young New Zealand male is seen as problematic, at school, in the home, and in society. His symbolic masculinity is as basic as the consumption of excess alcohol and demonstrating physical prowess behind a ridiculously over-powered motor or in toughness and staunchness and sexual conquest.

A challenge to the family and the schools is apparent. Not so obvious is the challenge to the traditionalist agriculturalist sector to broaden its cultural reach so as to equip young males for the coming world rather than to the unreal expectation that barely-literate young males, dominated by androgens, technology and an aggressive sports tradition, will be able to cope and contribute. For that, you need much more sensitive things like relationship skills, communication skills, verbal skills, reading for knowledge, and a real sense of values in solving problems.

In broader terms, the force of the World Values global model of traditional-to-rational systems coupled with survivalist-to-postmodern affluence with a remnant tradition and religion character, is to be acknowledged. Whether all of Northern Europe or all of Orthodox Europe and its ancillaries, to take these examples, can be embraced within their own one-dimensional designation may be questioned. What we have attempted to show is that there is good reason to treat New Zealand as uniquely multicultural and as being in a position, of necessity, to plot its own trajectory amidst the forces of past and future.

In this context, with its powerful Polynesian and Maori presence, PostModernism exists alongside Traditional Value-Systems, and the global model says that whilst economically induced modernization will continue, this may not be expected to wash out the traditional culture(s). The nature of those traditional cultures has been the focus of interest in this paper. They are not such as to accord automatic priority to profit and growth. What they have done in other countries is to shape the character of the complete culture. The result here, it is argued, is increasingly a multicultural country which is a microcosm of the world.