English is the predominant
language in New Zealand, spoken by 98 percent of the population. New Zealand English is similar to Australian English; the main difference is the accent and the same happens
with other countries.
After the Second World War, Māori
were discouraged from speaking their own language and used to exist as a
community language only in a few remote areas. In 1987, after a process of
revitalization it was declared one of New Zealand's official languages and is
now spoken by 4.1 percent of the population.
Samoan is one of the most widely
spoken languages in New Zealand (2.3 percent), followed by French, Hindi,
Yue and Northern Chinese. New Zealand Sign Language, made an official language in 2006, is used by
approximately 28,000 people.
Māori quickly adopted
writing as a means of sharing ideas; many of their oral stories and poems were
converted to the written form. Most early English literature was obtained from
Britain and it was not until the 1950s when New Zealand literature started to
become widely known.
In the 1930s writers began to develop stories increasingly focused on
their experiences in New Zealand, specially influenced by global trends, like
modernism, and events, such as the Great Depression. Participation in the world
wars gave some New Zealand writers a new perspective on New Zealand culture and
with the post-war expansion of universities, local literature flourished.