Culture in New Caledonia

Mwa Ka Totem © New Caledonia TourismNew Caledonia's culture is a fascinating blend of French and Melanesian influences. French settlers fall into two groups - French nationals and the rural Caldoche (farmers largely descended from convict settlers).

The indigenous Melanesian tribes are known as Kanaks, and La Coutume is the name given to traditional Kanak rites, rituals and social interaction between and within clans. The exchange of gifts is an important element of La Coutume. Traditionally, the clan's activity is centred around the largest hut - the grande case - where the chief resides. Today, Kanak culture and arts are enjoying a revival, in particular kaneka (contemporary music set to traditional harmonies and rhythms), dance and woodcarving. You can find out more about Kanak music, art, theatre and dance exhibitions at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre.