New ZealandNew 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 Capital Wellington Queen Elizabeth II Governor-General Silvia Cartwright Prime Minister Helen Clark Area Ranked 73rd - Total 268,680 km² - % water Negligible Population - 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. Politics 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 local government. 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 *): * Auckland * Bay of Plenty * Canterbury * Gisborne * * Hawke's Bay * Marlborough * * Nelson * * Northland * Otago * Southland * Taranaki * Tasman * * Waikato * Manawatu-Wanganui * Wellington * West Coast The Chatham Islands district council are also considered a separate territorial (unitary) authority due to its isolation and small population. Geography 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 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) Scenic backdrop 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). Economy 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." 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. Demographics 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. Culture Public Holidays Statutory Holidays Date Name 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 Provincial District includes Actual Day Observance Day Invercargill, Southland Bluff, Milford 17 January Varies ? determined by local Sound Fiordland custom and tourist season. Wellington, Wellington Manawatu, 22 January Monday nearest to the actual Wanganui day Auckland Waikato 29 January Monday nearest to the actual day Northland Whangarei 29 January Monday nearest to the actual day Nelson Nelson, Buller 1 February Monday nearest to the actual day Otago Dunedin 23 March Monday nearest to the actual day 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 day Monday nearest to the actual Westland Westport, 1 December day (Greymouth) Greymouth Varies (outside Greymouth) Christchurch Show Day (Northern Canterbury) Christchurch Show Day (Central Canterbury) 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 Christmas. 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. School Holidays 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. Sport 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. National teams: * 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.