New Zealand has a proud indigenous culture which takes inspiration from traditional Maori customs and beliefs as well as from the particular character of the New Zealand landscape, defined by mountain ranges and verdant valleys. To this indigenous culture has been added the influence of European settlers, their beliefs and their cultural traditions, which has created a potent and at times explosive mix.
For a country with a relatively young history of literature publication, New Zealand has a rich and profound literary tradition. Witi Ihimaera was the first Maori writer to publish both a book of short stories and a novel, considering himself first and foremost a Maori writer, rather than a European one. Witi Ihimaeraa's Whale Rider, which was adapted for film in 2002, has become a popular classic, offering an insightful glimpse of the complexities of Maori culture. The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield provides an overview of one of the most accomplished female authors of all time. Mansfield is widely celebrated both for her modernist portrayal of female characters and her depiction of the lives of European settlers in New Zealand. Keri Hulme's Booker Prize-winning novel The Bone People deals unflinchingly with social issues of domestic abuse and alcoholism. Other prominent authors include Patricia Grace,Albert Wendt and Maurice Gee.
Because of its beauty and diverse landscape, New Zealand has been the backdrop for many films, including the Academy award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. Heavenly Creatures, also directed by Jackson, was set in Christchurch and gained an Academy Award nomination. Jane Campion's Academy Award-winning film The Pianois another film set in New Zealand, highlighting both the beauty and the harshness of New Zealand’s landscape to great effect.
Contemporary music in New Zealand crosses a wide range of genres. Iconic New Zealand rock band Crowded House has produced a string of critically-acclaimed albums and their songs are frequently covered by other artists. Fat Freddy's Drop is a 7-piece band whose music incorporates elements of dub, jazz, reggae and funk. Flight of the Concords is a team of two actor-musicians who shot to international fame with their comical songs and eponymous TV series.