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New research shines a light on 30 years of change in culture

News: 6 November 2019

NZ On Air has released new research that spotlights how New Zealanders view ourselves – our perceptions of our culture and identity, and our relationship with local media.

The research, conducted by Research NZ, coincides with NZ On Air’s 30th birthday, and repeats key elements of research carried out in 1989/1990 for the newly formed funding agency. That research aimed to establish what mattered to New Zealanders, our identity and culture, and informed the agency’s foundation strategy.

30 years on much has changed. The demographic, technological and media change in New Zealand has been profound. With the aim to “connect and reflect” Aotearoa, NZ On Air was interested to know if local media content is reflecting the more diverse New Zealand, and what local content New Zealanders are connecting with, amidst a tidal wave of international services and content.

The research has been launched today by Minister for Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Communications, Hon. Kris Faafoi.

The key findings show:

• Our national identity has evolved, but we still hold fast to many of the same things we believed about ourselves 30 years ago such as that we see ourselves as friendly, genuine and straight-up.
• While big demographic changes have prompted greater acceptance of cultural diversity, New Zealanders acknowledge Māori culture is integral to national identity.
• We’re troubled by some important environmental and social issues – the ¼ acre paradise dream is over.
• We think our national sports teams shape and reflect our national identity more so than other cultural elements.
• One in four New Zealanders watch local content because it reflects and informs their view of our national identity, but even those who don’t watch local content believe it’s important to have it.
• More New Zealanders would watch more New Zealand-made content – but they want it on the services they watch, ad free, and they want it specific to their age/interests.
• New Zealanders want news media that’s independent and informative.

“There are many reasons why people need to see themselves reflected in the media they consume. Seeing ourselves, understanding the different peoples that make up our communities, our special values, appreciating our stunning whenua, these are all important to our culture,” said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

“The research reminds us that our media environment is fragile and fragmented. 30 years after the reforms that created NZ On Air, it is more important than ever that funders, broadcasters and platforms collaborate to ensure New Zealand’s authentic stories are not drowned out by the global giants,” she continued.

NZ On Air has issued a discussion document for industry based on the research key findings.

Today’s release includes:

Research NZ’s summary report
A literature review looking at the past 30 years of change
• 2 Fact sheets, delving into particular focus areas - Younger People and Affinity Groups
A discussion document from NZ On Air
Further fact sheets and an online tool allowing access to the data will be available in coming weeks. 

Updated on 11th November 2019