Research kicks off on modern Kiwi identity

23 Mar, 2018
Research kicks off on modern Kiwi identity

Auckland University of Technology researcher Lindsay Neill is launching an investigation into what New Zealanders, aged 20 to 40, believe identifies them as Kiwis in 2018.

The research, commissioned by electricity retailer Electric Kiwi, aims to gain insight into contemporary views of what constitutes ‘Kiwiana’ - material items people believe to be important to their Kiwi identity and the values they associate with those items.

“To date research on Kiwi identity and Kiwiana has focused on the past,” says Neill. “Most comes from the 1950s and 60s and reflects ‘the good old days’. This research will explore the views of contemporary New Zealanders most of whom have grown up with the global influence of the World Wide Web.

“Our society has also become increasingly multi-cultural, so it will be interesting to see what impact that has had and is having on Kiwi identity.”

Electric Kiwi general manager of brand Andrew Cooper says, “As a smaller Kiwi business, we commissioned the research because we want to celebrate and reflect Kiwi-ness. Part of being a good Kiwi is getting behind other Kiwis doing great things. Lindsay’s research fits into that category for us.”

The research will have two phases; the first will capture what people think about existing ideas about being Kiwi and the other will ask participants about new themes emerging in Kiwi identity.

“For example, the beckoning cat commonly seen in many Asian owned retail outlets may make an appearance as an item reflecting Kiwi identity and the changing demographic of New Zealand,” says Neill.

“The will research will include opportunities for participants to tell their own stories of Kiwi-ness.”

“Working with Lindsay and AUT will help us better understand customers and engage Kiwis in a conversation,” says Cooper. “We are fascinated, as Kiwis, to see the results”.

The research ties into Neill’s PhD work that explores three migrant communities – Chinese, South American and Pacific Island and what they think about Kiwi identity, as well as his extensive work related to pie carts and their relationship to Kiwiana.

Neil notes that Maoriana is treated by academics as a separate category from Kiwiana and most New Zealanders regard these as firmly ensconced symbols of New Zealand and the Kiwi identity.

The surveys will take place online during April and May 2018. Anyone wanting to participate can do so here. Results will be published late 2018.