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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.



The Effects of Insularity

The remoteness of their country has its effect on the attitude of New Zealanders towards the world at large. Curious to see its wonders for themselves, they are great travellers. Eager to learn about it from the written word, they are avid readers of books and newspapers. At the same time the experience of living in a land apart has imbued them with an insular pride that prompts them to maintain a somewhat exaggerated estimate of the excellence of their own institutions. Though anxious to learn and fully aware that nothing is to be gained by pursuing self-sufficiency, they are oversensitive to outside criticism, even though it be constructive. Visitors who comment unfavourably risk execration by the local press.

On the question of whether they speak English with a distinctive accent and, if so, whether that accent is pleasing to the ear, New Zealanders are always interested in hearing outside opinion, though not always pleased by the judgment it pronounces. The view that hardly any accent is noticeable seldom fails to please; yet it is not admissible. A definite New Zealand accent had certainly been developed by the turn of the century, if not earlier, and it seems justifiable to assume that it came into being while the first native-born generation was growing up. Local variations of the accent have not developed to any marked extent, possibly owing to the fact that from earliest days New Zealand's population has been subject to movement, mingling, and interfusion. Opinions differ as to whether inhabitants of the various provinces can be distinguished by their speech.