Culture and arts New Caledonia

Culture and arts New Caledonia


- Melanesians (or Kanaks) make up more than 40% of the population of the archipelago, followed by Caledonians (European settlers or Caldoches), descendants of Europeans (mainly French) who represent around 30% of the population. Nationals of Wallis are also numerous, more even than on their own islands!

The Territory also has a nice proportion of Metropolitains (the Metros or Zoreilles), as well as a number of Vietnamese and D'Indonesians.

Subways are concentrated in the capital. Among the Caldoches, one distinguishes those of the cities and those of the fields, the latter being commonly nicknamed "broussards". They live on the west coast of Grande Terre where they practice breeding. If one meets Kanaks in Noumea, the great majority live in tribal localities inland and along the coasts of Grande Terre, as well as on the islands.

Traditional Kanake Culture

In the Melanesian or Kanake culture (this second adjective generally covering an identity connotation), the clan (or the “tribe”, name given by Europeans) counts much more than the individual. Respect for secular tribal rulers, which govern community life and allow its harmony, is essential. In New Caledonia, it is very important to respect the custom, code of conduct which governs social exchanges and rites within the clan and with other tribes, while maintaining the link with ancestors.

For tourists, it is mainly a question of respecting theban on entering taboo places without the prior authorization of the clan chief. Before visiting these places, it is usually necessary to comply with a ritual including symbolic gestures and exchange of gifts. If you are staying in a tribe, do not forget to do some shopping (food, cigarettes, small items) before your stay so that you can practice the custom. Your hosts will be able to tell you the procedure very well, do not hesitate to inquire.

Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center

Located to the east of Noumea, the Tjibaou - ADCK cultural center aims to enhance the Kanak archaeological, ethnological and linguistic heritage, to encourage contemporary forms of expression of Kanak culture and to promote cultural exchanges.

The architect Renzo Piano was largely inspired by the symbols of Kanak culture to design his building. The various rooms and huts are devoted to exhibitions of Kanak and Oceanic art. Outside, do not miss to walk the Kanak path, an initiatory vegetal course which traces the myth of the first man Téâ Kanaké. The cultural center is also a place of regularly animated shows.

French culture

Distant from the metropolis by more than 20 km, New Caledonia, annexed by France in 000, was part of the Republic, at least until 1853, the date of a referendum which should determine, or not, its independence.

The “Caillou” is marked by French influence mainly in the capital and along the west coast of Grande Terre. The broussards have nevertheless forged their own culture over time. To find out more, read Bernard Berger's humorous comics La brousse en folie, an excellent compendium of Caldoche-Broussarde culture.


Born following the "events", the kaneka, a mixture of traditional music punctuated by reggae chords, gave new impetus to local music and today holds the top bill. For the rest, gentle wave music and French and international variety.


Among the newspapers, Nouvelles Calédoniennes comes first in sales. You can also read Les Infos, a weekly.

On the small screen, the only specifically Caledonian channel, Télé Nouvelle-Calédonie, is part of the RFO network.

On the air, Radio Nouvelle-Calédonie is the national station. There are also Kanak stations (Radio Djiido in particular) and other loyalists (Radio Rythme Bleu for example).

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