New Zealand: our safe haven in troubled times and the family roast rules the roost this Christmas

Thursday 15 December 2011, 5:57PM

In 2011 home is seen as a safe haven and Christmastime still means family time to New Zealanders; that is the heartwarming finding of the inaugural BNZ Face of the Nation Survey.

After a year of financial restraint and global upheaval, the simple pleasures of staying close to home with loved ones, tops the list for a Kiwi Christmas with 79% of respondents saying they will spend Christmas Day at home with family.

But it will be a pretty modest affair for many with 63% of respondents planning to share their day with groups of between four and 15 people and a surprising 31% reporting to be with only one to three.

The domestic labour gap has leveled out with 72% of women saying they expect to spend their time in the kitchen or around the BBQ, only marginally more than their male counterparts (68%). Festive menu choices have gone back to the traditional roast with 80% of respondents saying they will have a roast meal of some sort for Christmas (22% Turkey, 50% Chicken) and 19% opting for the great Kiwi BBQ.

Steady as she goes is the overarching trend for the New Year with only a quarter of Kiwis surveyed saying they’ll be making New Year’s resolutions going into 2012. Half of those plan to change themselves with over half committing to lose weight and get fit and 51% of women and 47% of men planning to be more fiscally prudent.

Meanwhile the top highlight from 2011 for New Zealanders was an event that propelled us to the national stage. Some 46% named the Rugby World Cup as a highlight of 2011 with 55% of these respondents from Auckland.

The lowlight was costs with 55% of total respondents saying the biggest challenge of 2011 was rising prices. Some 39% of respondents listed financial difficulties as their biggest worry heading into 2012.

When asked which economy people thought was doing better than New Zealand’s, the most popular answer was Australia, with 71% of respondents saying our economy was worse than theirs. Only 9% of people believed the New Zealand economy was doing better than our Australian counterparts.


While gift giving is still a go to most, the present pile under the tree will look much the same as last year. Forty per cent of Kiwis are planning to spend about the same amount of money on presents, 22% slightly less while 55% expect overall their Christmas to be much the same as 2010.

Not everyone is looking forward to a family Christmas; 21% say difficult family members make it too stressful to share a family Christmas and over half (51%) state that financial pressure is the single reason for seasonal anxiety.

Enthusiasm for the festive season was tempered too with the majority of those surveyed saying they were lukewarm about December 25th and 4% going a step further stating they were downright dreading it.

Women were more likely to be more enthusiastic than their male counterparts but Asian Kiwis were overwhelmingly exuberant (41%) followed by Maori & Pacific Islanders (30%).

Kiwi Christmas

When asked what best symbolises a New Zealand Christmas, a clear 67% said family time, followed far behind by presents (36%) and the ubiquitous BBQ a close third (31%). And the appeal of the beach resonated more for the Asian and Maori and Pacific Island communities (over 30%) than for NZ Europeans.

The family focus theme remains strong with the gift of time a high priority; nearly half of those surveyed say they plan to take time off work between Christmas and New Year with 43% taking between 7 and 15 days over the holiday break.


When it comes to positivity the poll distinguished some small generational differences; younger kiwis are generally more positive while those in the 45-54 age group, along with lower income families, were less optimistic about the year ahead.

Financial matters dominate what people are concerned about in the coming year. Almost forty percent were concerned about their finances heading into the New Year. Thirty nine percent of those surveyed said rising prices and paying bills were a worry and both genders saw reducing debt as a top priority for them.

A third of New Zealanders are planning an overseas trip in 2012, while 19% of those polled intend to either buy, build or renovate properties.

About the survey

The BNZ Face of the Nation survey was conducted between November 24 and November 30. The online survey had 1004 respondents aged 18 and over.