Spanish Culture Permeates Our Own

The presence of a three month-long film festival prompts the question: Are there tangible traces of Spanish culture in New Zealand?

The 17th annual Latin American and Spain Film Festival is touring New Zealand, and revealing just how much New Zealanders love Spanish culture. The Local’s guest contributor Nina Cross, who is based in Auckland, takes a look.

The non-profit festival is visiting 12 cities across New Zealand until 7 December and aims to connect locals with the rich and unique cultures of Spain and Latin America.

The festival is screening films from 11 participating countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. The Spanish film this year is También la lluvia or Even the Rain. Directed by Icíar Bollaín, this 2010 historical drama highlights the real-life water wars that took place in Bolivia in 2000.

Geographically, Spain is the exact opposite side of the globe from New Zealand, yet there is significant cultural expression scattered across different aspects of the country.

Maria Ble-Herrero, a senior tutor of Spanish at the University of Waikato, is working in collaboration with the university to host the Hamilton leg of the festival this year and sat down with The Local to share her own experience.

Originally from Córdoba, Spain,Ble-Herrero officially moved to New Zealand in 1991. She now lives in Hamilton.

When asked if there was much interest for learning Spanish in such a geographically isolated nation she said:

“Yes there is a lot of interest in Spanish culture here. When I first came to New Zealand I put up posters at a small cafe offering private Spanish lessons, and in my first week I had five people book times to speak with me.”

Ble-Herrero says that when she first came to New Zealand over 20 years ago, she couldn’t find very much Spanish or European influence. But, in the last decade or so, things have changed drastically as European culture is adopted more and more.

“Now we have a little more Spanish cuisine here. Years ago you couldn’t get chorizo or jamón anywhere but now it’s more common and easy to find. Every year I miss Spain less and less in that way, because I can get more things from home here.”

The Local interviewed Fernando Curcio Ruigómez, ambassador of Spain to New Zealand, to further explore the connection between the two nations.

According to Ruigómez, “there are around 2000 Spanish citizens registered in the Spanish Consulate as residents in New Zealand. In the last couple of years we have witnessed a regular increase of around 200 new residents per year”.

New Zealand and Spain also share many common values, especially when it comes to international peace and security and in international trade. Both countries have made substantial contributions to multilateral peace support operations including, most recently, in Afghanistan.

Original article by Nina Green, The Local, November 26, 2018.

Tags: 17th annual Latin American and Spain Film Festival  Fernando Curcio Ruigómez  Local (The)  Maria Ble-Herrero  Spain  

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