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American Influence Over New Zealand Culture

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American Influence over New Zealand Culture

Mark Fraser

November 18, 2004


War World 2 was a pivotal point of change for New Zealand. The country went from being a colonial country dependent or rather in awe of our mother country, England, to being a Colonial country now more excited with new contact with the new world super power of America. America's acceptance as defender of the Pacific was the wedge that quickly romanticises the New Zealand people into a 60 year love affair with all things American. New Zealand has now reached a point where American media and influence in this country has now become integrated into the New Zealand culture and psyche itself.

American Influence over New Zealand Culture

Since the start of the "American Invasion" of New Zealand in 1942, New Zealand has become greatly dependent on America. From political to fashion, culture and entertainment, all areas of New Zealand life have been increasingly influenced from our relationship with the United States. Our loyalty/dependency to our once influential homelands in Britain, England especially, has been slowly washed away in the tides of American culture that floods the New Zealand citizen everyday.

Just walking down the main street of any New Zealand town you don't have to look too far to see a touch of America. Teenagers walk down the street, pants baggy and wearing hoodies. Music from shop radios drift onto the street, at least a 75% chance that the song is American made. The shop windows display Americanised tabloid magazines whose covers are littered by American Celebrities and their Ð''tragic' love triangles. Next to the tabloid magazines sits the New Zealand version of Americas T.V Guide, in its pages news and show times of the hundreds of American shows that crowd New Zealand's televisions channels. Inside the store American confectionary lines the front of the store, Fruit Bursts, Nestles chocolate and a hundred others. In the corner sits a stand that holds a selection of Ð''Top 40' music Compact Disks, all American artists. And in the refrigerated drink units Americas product spearhead, Coke, sits cooling away waiting to be snatched up by the next customer who walks in. People line up at the movie theatre next door, five movies showing, all American. In the street outside a Ford Falcon is parked, another passes by on its way home. As the Ford Falcon pulls up its driveway you can see that even at home there is no escape from the relenting influence of the American juggernaut. In the garage, the father's home away from home, an American Ford calendar hangs; on its pages are all American girls half naked and crawling seductively over all American cars. American brand electronic equipment is spread though out the house. In the kids bed rooms the walls are plastered with dozens of posters of teen pop super stars and the latest young actors and actresses from Hollywood. The rooms are virtual shrines to all that is the American celebrity. In their shelves numerous CD's, DVD's and video games are stacked, almost all are American. Their wardrobes are lined back to back with American labels, Sean Jones; P-Diddy's jeans label is evident in the drawers. Britney Spears new perfume becomes a centre piece of the dresser in the corner. Finding something uniquely New Zealand culture is a near impossibility. A bone carved necklace lies on the desktop, but something that was once only carved as a hook or art of Maori in origin now has been carved to resemble the new symbol for a son's new favourite American rock band. In the kitchen, next to the bin, is a small pile of empty Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes, left over from the weekly Friday feed of American takeaways eaten the day before. In the freezer, stacked like bricks, are boxes upon boxes of microwave dinners and easy quick cooking frozen food. Long gone are the days of starting to prepare a nice home cooked meal from scratch, not when you can Ð''nuke it'. Out the back of the house are a few small slabs of concrete and a worn Basket Ball hoop where the kids have spent countless hours dreaming of becoming the next Michael Jordan. But even with this abundance of Americana in their own home, the family, if asked, would remain adamant that they really aren't too affected by American culture. This is because it has now become part of our own.

The transition from English to a more American New Zealand started right back in 1942. The war in Europe was in full swing and New Zealand had begun to rally the troops. All able men were conscripted into the New Zealand army. Japan had begun its attack of several Asia/Pacific Islands. Pearl Harbour had just taken place and America was looking for launching pad for its counter strike against Japan. As the Japanese expanded in the Pacific and British control of the seas weakened, New Zealand was on the verge of pulling its men from the war in Europe to defend the country. Winston Churchill, the English Prime Minister, turned to the U.S President Roosevelt to send troops to New Zealand in aid of the small pacific nation. The United States saw this as a perfect opportunity to establish a "staging post for operations against the Japanese within the Pacific" (Phillips, J). Thousands of US soldiers poured into New Zealand. It was the first time for many New Zealanders that they had encountered Americans. By May 1943 there were more than 40,000 U.S troops (Fig.1) in New Zealand. American forces were always at some point of comings to and from the war in the Pacific. The Americans trained hard in New Zealand but since New Zealanders had a very different idea of leisure, the American soldiers had to make their own entertainment when it came to time off.



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