on belonging and national identity

Nations and national identities are not static things—they are constantly evolving. Products of history, geography, demography, culture, and sometimes sheer happenstance, nations and their identities both define and are defined by their people. How we come to recognise ourselves as a nation, or for that matter find ourselves belonging within one, is more important than we know. The stark reality is that if we don’t think about these things, someone else will tell us who we are – be it filtered through art, lyrics, policy, or national discussion.

In this edition you will find a series of essays to spark your thinking on the issues of belonging and national identity and—for those who call Aotearoa home—to highlight the beauty of the nation that is ours. International perspectives on integration and the creation of identity via narrative sit alongside essays that focus more squarely on home: the role of sport in tying the nation together, how our national identity has been and continues to be formed, and the promise that reconciliation holds for bringing all of our diverse peoples together. Personal reflections, photo essays, and poetry delve further into that eternal question: what does it mean to be a New Zealander?


We Kiwis are a ragtag bunch. The ingenuity, the mumbling, the penchant for desserts made from lightly whipped egg whites, the wry humour, the love of the ocean, the ability to pronounce the words “Whangamomona” and “bach” correctly, the ethereal beauty of the South and the flagrant disregard for road code adherence in the North. We’re a young nation, meaning we’re both innovative and still a little culturally undefined. But therein lies the beauty. We have the potential to cultivate a national identity for ourselves that best reflects us as a people today.

As you read, may this volume inspire you to understand and interpret our historical legacy, be encouraged by what is already developing among us, and become passionate about where we grow from here. Quiet corners await you.

– Jamiee Abict, Editor

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people – Mahatma Gandhi