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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.



National Characteristics

New Zealand women are generally regarded as industrious, reliable, and adaptable. Their attitudes are rather conventional and in the main deviate very little from a dull norm in dress, food, and home-making. The immigration since the Second World War of a number of people from European countries, and the presence of Colombo Plan students from Asian countries have leavened the habits of some, but this is counteracted in other ways by such factors as lack of choice in numerous commodities through import restrictions. New Zealand women are of a law-abiding disposition (usually only about five per cent of the total criminal charges both in the Magistrates' and in Supreme Courts are against females, and the most common serious offence is theft) and are inherently egalitarian in outlook. Many of them have received national and international acclaim for outstanding performances in research, professional, sporting, and cultural fields. Any list of people who have distinguished themselves in these spheres inevitably omits many who deserve to be mentioned, but a few who would be included are Janet Frame and Sylvia Ashton Warner as novelists; Rowena Jackson in ballet; Helen Crab (Barc), Evelyn Page, Doris Luck, Juliet Peter, and Lorna Ellis in various art forms; Dorothy Davies, Janetta McStay, Honor McKellar, and Mary Pratt in music; and Yvette Williams and Valerie Sloper in athletics. Each year sees more and more New Zealand women overcoming prejudices and widening the scope of their achievements, as well as extending their interests to spheres previously thought of as the prerogatives of men. In this way they are developing more individuality and personality, but not at the expense of their femininity. On the whole they are productive and respected employees and employers, conscientious and companionable mothers, indispensable counsellors in maturity, and happily independent in old age.

by Heather Margaret Reid, B.A., Housewife, Dunedin.