New Zealand (or Aotearoa in the Maori language, usually translated Land of the Long White Cloud) is a country located in the Southwest Pacific. The two main islands of New Zealand are somewhat isolated in the ocean, with the continent of Australia about 1600 km to the northwest. To the south is Antarctica and to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.
|National motto: None|
|Official languages||English (with local variations), Māori|
|Prime Minister||Helen Clark|
- % water
|Ranked 73rd |
- Total (April 2003)
|From the UK|
September 26, 1907
|Currency||New Zealand dollar|
|Time zone||UTC +12|
|National anthems||God Defend New Zealand|
God Save The Queen
The first Europeans to reach New Zealand were led by Abel Janszoon Tasman, who sailed up the west coast of the South and North islands in 1642. The Dutch thought it was a single land which they later named "Nieuw Zeeland" after their province of Zeeland. In 1769 Captain James Cook began extensive surveys of the islands. This led to European whaling expeditions and eventually significant European colonisation. The Treaty of Waitangi on February 6, 1840 between the British government and the Maori established British sovereignty over New Zealand. New Zealand became an independent dominion on September 26, 1907 by royal proclamation.
New Zealand is a Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy[?] governed by a 120-member unicameral parliament, from which an executive cabinet of about 20 ministers is selected. New Zealand's head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by the Governor General, Dame Silvia Cartwright[?].
The New Zealand cabinet is led by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, currently (April 2003) Helen Clark of the centre-left Labour party, which governs in coalition with the further-left Progressive Coalition[?] party, and with support from the centre-right United Future[?]. General elections are held every three years; the most recent were held in July 2002. Currently seven parties are represented in the New Zealand parliament.
New Zealand is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
New Zealand is a party to the ANZUS security treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States. In 1985 New Zealand refused to allow U.S. nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships to enter its ports, causing the US to abrogate its ANZUS responsibilities to New Zealand in 1986. New Zealand has not formally withdrawn from the treaty.
New Zealand consists of 16 regions of which 4 are unitary authorities, marked by a *:
New Zealand is composed of two main islands and a number of smaller islands. The South Island is the largest land mass, and is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Mount Cook, at 3754 metres. There are eighteen peaks of more than three kilometres in the South Island. The North Island is less mountainous than the South, but is marked by volcanism. The tallest North Island mountain, Mount Ruapehu (2797 metres,) is an active cone volcano.
The total land area of New Zealand, 268,680 km², is somewhat less than that of Japan or of the British Isles, and slightly larger than Colorado in the USA. The country extends more than 1600 km along its main, north-northeast axis.
The climate throughout the country is mild, mostly cool temperate to warm temperate, with temperatures rarely falling below 0°C or rising above 30°C. Conditions vary from wet and cold in Southland[?] and the West Coast of the South Island, where most of the country's rain falls, to subtropical[?] in Northland[?]. In Wellington the average minimum temperature in winter is 5.9°C and the average maximum temperature in summer is 20.3°C.
television programmes and films. In particular, Hercules and Xena were filmed around Auckland, Heavenly Creatures in Christchurch. Peter Jackson shot The Lord of the Rings in various locations around the country, taking advantage of the spectacular and relatively unspoiled landscapes.
Because of its long isolation from the rest of the world, New Zealand has an extraordinary flora and fauna. Until the arrival of the first humans just a millennium or two ago, 80% of the land was forested and, bar two species of bat, there were no mammals at all. Instead, New Zealand's forests were inhabited by a diverse range of birds (many of them flightless), reptiles, and insects—some of them almost the size of a mouse (see weta).
New Zealand has a modern, developed economy. Its primary export[?] industries are agriculture, horticulture, fishing and forestry. There is also a substantial tourism industry. The film and wine industries are considered to be up-and-coming.
Since 1984 successive governments have engaged in major economic restructuring, transforming New Zealand from a highly protectionist and regulated economy to a liberalised, free-trade economy. Despite periods of dynamic growth in the mid 1980s and early 90s, real incomes have declined from 1980 levels, and average yearly economic growth has been poorer than expected and is highly reliant on massive levels of immigration to boost GDP.
The current New Zealand government's economic objectives are centred around moving from being ranked among the lower end of the OECD countries to regaining a higher placing again, pursuing free-trade agreements, "closing the gaps" between ethnic groups, and building a "knowledge economy."
New Zealand is heavily dependent on trade - particularly in agricultural products - to drive growth, and it has been affected by global economic slowdowns and slumps in commodity prices. Since agricultural exports are highly sensitive to currency values and a large percentage of consumer goods are imported, any changes in the value of the New Zealand dollar has a strong impact on the economy.
During the late 1980's, the New Zealand Government sold a number of major trading enterprises, including, amongst others, its telephone company, railway system, a number of radio stations and two banks in a series of asset sales. Although the New Zealand Government continues to own a number of significant businesses, collectively known as State-Owned Enterprises[?] (SOEs), they are operated through arms-length shareholding arrangements as stand alone businesses that are required to operate profitably, just like any privately owned enterprise. Various items of protective legislation establishes business objectives yet prevents shareholding governments from having influence over day to day operations of the business. Postal services, electricity companies, radio and television broadcasters, as well as hospitals and other trading enterprises are established in this way. The core State Service consists of government departments and ministries that primarily provide government administration, policy advice, law enforcement, and social services.
Although the majority of the New Zealand population (~80%) is now of European origin, Maori people are the second largest ethnic group (14.7%). Between the 1996 and 2001 census, people of Asian origin (6.6%) overtook Pacific Islanders (6.5%) as the third largest ethnic group. Note that the census allowed multiple affiliations. Maori culture is a significant feature of New Zealand's public life.
New Zealand's most popular sports are rugby (primarily rugby union but also rugby league), football (the most popular sport amongst children), cricket, and netball (the sport with the most players); golf, tennis, rowing and a variety of water sports[?], particularly sailing. Snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding are also popular.
Rugby as a sport is closely linked to New Zealand's national identity. The national rugby team is called the All Blacks and New Zealanders expect it to be able to beat the world. This style of name has been followed in naming the national team in several other sports. New Zealand's national sporting colours are not the colours of its flag, but are black and white (silver). The silver fern[?] is a national emblem worn by New Zealanders representing their country in sport. The haka[?] - a traditional maori war dance - is often performed at sporting events. The All Blacks traditionally perform a haka before the start of play.
New Zealand is world-famous among glider pilots for hosting the 1995 Gliding World Cup at Omarama in North Otago near the centre of the South Island. The Southern Alps are known for the excellent wave soaring conditions. Steve Fosset has recently tried to beat the world gliding altitude record there. (See external links.)
Auckland hosted the last two Americas Cup regattas (2000 and 2003). In 2000, Team New Zealand successfully defended the trophy they won in 1995 in San Diego but in 2003 they lost to a team from Switzerland.