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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.
Table of contents
National motto: None
Official languages English, M?ori
Queen Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Helen Clark
Area Ranked 73rd
- Total 268,680 km²
- % water
- Total (April Ranked 120th
History 2003) 4,000,000
- Density 14.9/km²
Independence From the UK
New Zealand is one of the most - Date September 26,
recently settled major land masses. 1907
Polynesian settlers arrived probably
some time between 500 and 1300 AD, and Currency New Zealand dollar
established the indigenous Maori
culture. Time zone UTC +12
God Defend New
The first Europeans to reach New National anthems Zealand
Zealand were led by Abel Janszoon God Save The
Tasman, who sailed up the west coast Queen
of the South and North islands in Internet TLD .nz
1642. The Dutch thought it was a
single land which they later named Calling Code +64
"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. Full' independence was granted by the United
Kingdom Parliament with the Statute of Westminster in 1931; it was taken up
upon the Statute's adoption in 1947.
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, Queen of New Zealand 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.
Provinces and Regions
When originally settled, New Zealand was divided into provinces, though
these were abolished in 1876 so that government could be centralised for
financial reasons. As a result, New Zealand has no separately represented
subnational entity such as a province, state or territory apart from its
Since 1876, local government has administered the various regions of New
Zealand. Due to its colonial heritage, New Zealand local government was
modelled fairly closely on British local government structures, with city,
borough and county councils. Over the years some of these councils merged
with each other by mutual agreement. Many councils were merged and
reorganised into districts and regions by the Local Government Commission in 1989.
Today, New Zealand local government is divided into of 16 regional
Territorial Authorities that encompass 57 districts and 16 cities; s of
which 4 are unitary authorities, with combined regional and district
administrative roles (marked by a *):
* Bay of Plenty
* Gisborne *
* Hawke's Bay
* Marlborough *
* Nelson *
* Tasman *
* West Coast
The Chatham Islands district council are also considered a separate
territorial (unitary) authority due to its isolation and small population.
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,
The climate throughout the country is mild, mostly cool temperate to warm
temperate, with temperatures rarely falling below 0íC or rising above 30íC.
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 5.9íC
and the average maximum temperature in summer is 20.3íC.
* National parks (New Zealand)
New Zealand's scenery has appeared in a number of 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.
Flora and Fauna
Main articles: New Zealand animals ? New Zealand plants ? New Zealand birds
Trees of New Zealand
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
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."
Unlike in previous decades, New Zealand has now contained inflationary
pressures, meaning hyperinflation has been consigned to the past.
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.
The main Christian denominations are Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Roman
Catholicism and Methodism. Over a third of the population is unaffiliated.
1 January or the following Monday if this is a Saturday
or Sunday. New Year's Day
2 January or the following Monday if this day is a
Saturday or Tuesday if this day is a Sunday or Monday as Day after New
New Year's Day is celebrated on the Monday. Year's Day
6 February Waitangi day
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday
First Sunday after the first full moon since the vernal
equinox Easter Sunday
The day after Easter Sunday Easter Monday
25 April ANZAC Day
1st Monday in June Queen's Birthday
4th Monday in October Labour Day
25 December or the following Monday if this day is a
Saturday or Sunday. Christmas Day
26 December or the following Monday if this day is a
Saturday or Tuesday if this day is a Sunday or Monday as Boxing Day
Christmas Day is celebrated on the Monday.
These holidays are legislated by several Acts of Parliament, particularly
the Holidays Act 1981. Additionally, the Holidays Act 1981 specifies
Provincial Anniversary Days to celebrate the founding days or landing days
of the first colonists of the various colonial provinces. The regions
covered are set by provincial district (as they stood when abolished in
1876), plus Southland, the Chatham Islands, South Canterbury and Northland.
the actual observance days can vary even within each province and is due to
local custom, convenience or the proximity of seasonal events or other
holidays. This may differ from the official observance day, and may be
several weeks from the official day.
Provincial Anniversary Days
District includes Actual Day Observance Day
Southland Bluff, Milford 17 January Varies ? determined by local
Sound Fiordland custom and tourist season.
Wellington Manawatu, 22 January Monday nearest to the actual
Auckland Waikato 29 January Monday nearest to the actual
Northland Whangarei 29 January Monday nearest to the actual
Nelson Nelson, Buller 1 February Monday nearest to the actual
Otago Dunedin 23 March Monday nearest to the actual
Taranaki (New Second Monday in March ? to
Plymouth) New Plymouth 31 March avoid Easter
South Canterbury 25 Fourth Monday in September ?
September Dominion Day
Hawkes' Bay Napier, Hastings 1 November Friday before Labour Day
Marlborough Picton 1 November First Monday after Labour Day
Chatham Islands 30 November Monday nearest to the actual
Monday nearest to the actual
Westland Westport, 1 December day (Greymouth)
Varies (outside Greymouth)
Christchurch Show Day
Christchurch Show Day (Central
Christchurch, Second Friday after the first
Canterbury Ashburton, Banks 16 December Tuesday in November
Peninsula (Christchurch City) - (To
coincide with the Agricultural
and Pastoral Show and avoid a
holiday just a week before
Vacations and Non-working days
In addition to the above holidays many New Zealand workers have 3 weeks
vacation, often taken in the summer Christmas - New Year period. (As New
Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, the summer months are from December
to February. Also the best summer weather often occurs during January and
February.) In many industries this coincides with a Christmas - New Year
shutdown for maintenance. With only 3 working days between Christmas and New
Year, many workers take this time off, as they can have a 10 day summer
break for only 3 days leave. Many retail outlets also hold sales at this
time to stimulate business while others close down due to low demand for
services. The days from 25 December to 15 January are not considered to be
working days for offical government purposes, although the public counters
of most government departments do open weekdays during this period, though
often only a limited service may be available.
New Zealand schools (now) have a 4 term year, of about 10 weeks each and 2
or 3 weeks holidays between terms. Although standard term dates are set by
the Education Department each year, schools can vary these to account for
local holidays and school closures due to weather. The first term generally
commences in late January and finishes so that Easter is celebrated within
the holidays between terms 1 and 2. The holidays between terms 2 and 3 are
generally known as the midwinter break and occur in July. While those
between terms 3 and 4 occur in late September and early October. Term 4 ends
in mid December, generally a week or two before Christmas, though for many
senior students this term ends after their final examinations in early December.
New Zealand's most popular sports are rugby (primarily rugby union but also
rugby league), football (soccer, 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.
* Rugby - All Blacks
* Women's Rugby - Black Ferns
* Soccer - All Whites
* Basketball - Tall Blacks
* Cricket - Black Caps
* Netball - Silver Ferns
* Hockey - Black Sticks
* Rugby league - Kiwis
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 America's 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.