Tribes of Wellington
If you've been reading the paper this weekend (or reading Unlimited last year), you'll have come across the buzz surrounding the book 8 Tribes: The Hidden Classes of New Zealand. While it's hardly the first attempt by marketers to conjure up demographic or psychographic clusters among New Zealanders (and I've dabbled in it myself), it's certainly a good conversation-starter and there may be something in it.
While I haven't read the book, I have plenty of reservations about what I can gather from the articles and the web site. First, the word "tribe" seems inappropriate, since it conjures up images of tightly defined and feuding clans: "tendency" might be more accurate. Attempts to promote it as a "new class system" seem way off the mark, given that it's not a hierarchy. The online "Find your tribe" quiz seems hardly more substantial than those cheesy blogthings.com memes, and the descriptions of the eight tribes seemed to leave out substantial chunks of New Zealand (especially those whose main allegiance is to tribes that existed long before PR consultants).
But it's definitely fun, and it's refreshing to see acknowledgement that there are New Zealanders who don't belong to the Balclutha or Papatoetoe tribes (maaate!). And the quiz results suprised me a little. I would dearly love to consider myself a Cuba Street person, but my lack of piercings and my straight-laced career point more towards the PC intellectuals of Grey Lynn. As it was, the results flattered me by edging out the Grey Lynn earnestness with some perhaps unearned Cuba St funk:
Perhaps that's not such a surprise, since the "tribes" concept is more about attitudes and aspirations than one's real lifestyle and actions.
While I'll continue to argue with the tribe definitions, there's a lot that rings true and might help crystallise discussion of demographics and attitudes. For instance, my aversion to Tauranga could be linked to the fact that it's gone from Balclutha and Papatoetoe to North Shore in a single generation, and while there may be a few bemused Raglan types hanging around the edges, there's no sign of it developing any Grey Lynn or Cuba St touches in the forseeable future.
I suspect that most WellUrban readers would fall into the Grey Lynn or Cuba St tribes, with perhaps a touch of North Shore (after all, I do write about shopping occasionally), but that's a hypothesis worth testing. So, fill in the online form and send the results to: tom [dot] beard [at] paradise [dot] net [dot] nz. Attach the graph image, since links to the result pages seem to be unreliable, and add some sort of description of where you live (suburb at least, and preferably street). With any luck, I'll get enough responses to map the results and show you where the "tribes" of Wellington actually live. Update: the results are here.