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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Limitations of Urban Life

Paradoxically though it may seem, working hours have long since been statutorily limited to 40 per week; and as the calendar is liberally sown with special statutory holidays, it comes about that a people who revere industry find themselves with an abnormal amount of leisure at their disposal. As a result, town-dwelling New Zealanders spend a great deal of time working at the improvement of their homes and gardens. “Do it yourself” is a popular motto, and strangers from abroad are often surprised at the number of citizens of the Dominion who build their own houses. Incidentally, the proportion of town dwellers is surprisingly high for a country that has only comparatively recently emerged from its pioneering stage. In New Zealand a greater percentage of the population live in towns of 2,000 inhabitants and upwards than is the case in France, Sweden, Norway, or Japan. Strict observance of the 40-hour week cannot, of course, be enjoyed by the entire community. For instance, a rigid limitation of working hours is impossible for the farmer with livestock to care for, and women, or at least wives, may not always share the generous allotment of leisure statutorily accorded to the male. They fully subscribe, however, to his view that the way to salvation lies in avoiding idleness, and many of them are well content to be martyrs to domesticity. In the country their tasks are unremitting; in the towns they enjoy the advantage of being able to commander the services of the family breadwinner on workless Saturdays, and the New Zealand male, either in town or country, is more ready and able than the males of most other countries to make himself useful about the house. In New Zealand cities there is no night life comparable to that of the cities of Europe and America. Good restaurants are few, mainly owing to the severe handicap imposed upon them by the licensing laws. As a result, entertaining is done almost entirely in the home.