|New Zealand is an
country in the south-western
Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the
Island and the
Island) and numerous
smaller islands, most notably
Stewart Island/Rakiura and the
Chatham Islands. The indigenous
Māori name for New Zealand is
commonly translated as land of the long white cloud.
Realm of New Zealand also includes
Niue (self-governing but in
free association); and the
Dependency, New Zealand's
territorial claim in Antarctica.
New Zealand is
notable for its geographic isolation; it is situated about
2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) southeast of
Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are
Tonga. The country's sharp mountain peaks owe much to
the earthquakes and volcanic activity caused by the clashing
Indo-Australian Plates. The climate is mild and
temperate and most of the landscape is covered by
tussock grass or forests of
southern beech. During its long isolation New Zealand
distinctive fauna dominated by
birds, a number of which became extinct after the
arrival of humans and
Polynesians settled New Zealand in 1250–1300 AD and
Europeans first made contact in 1642 AD. In 1840 a
treaty was signed between the
British, making New Zealand a colony of
Britain. The colony became self governing in 1852 and
was made a
Commonwealth realm in 1947.
Elizabeth II, as the
Queen of New Zealand, is the country's
state and is represented by a
Governor-General. The Queens role is limited and
executive political power is exercised by the
Cabinet of New Zealand, led by the
Prime Minister. New Zealand has close ties with Britain,
Australia and the
States and plays a leading role among
Pacific Island nations.
New Zealand underwent
major economic changes during the 1980s, transforming
protectionist economy to a liberalised
free-trade economy. The economy is highly dependent on
trade, particularly in agricultural products. The majority
New Zealand's population is of
European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest
minority followed by Asians and non-Māori Polynesians.
Māori (language) and
New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages,
with English being the most prevalent. Much of New Zealand's
culture is derived from the Māori and early British
settlers, although recently it has been broadened by
globalization and immigration from the Pacific Islands and
1657 map showing western coastline of "Nova
It is unknown whether New Zealand had a Māori name before
the arrival of Europeans, with
(which literally translates as "land of the long white
originally just referring to the
Island. The use of the term to describe the whole
country only occurred post-colonially and it is now commonly
New Zealand English.
Tasman sighted the islands in 1642 and named them
Staten Landt, assuming they were connected to land off
the southern tip of South America.
In 1645 Dutch
cartographers renamed the islands Nova Zeelandia
Dutch province of
anglicised the name to New Zealand.[n
Māori traditionally had several names for the two main
islands; including Te Ika a Māui (the fish of
Māui) for the North Island and
Pounamu (the waters of
greenstone) or Te Waka o Aoraki (the canoe of
Aoraki) for the
Early European maps labelled the islands North (North
Island), Middle (South Island) and South (Stewart
Island / Rakiura).
In 1830 maps began using North and South to distinguish the
two largest islands and by 1907 this was the accepted norm.
New Zealand Geographic Board discovered in 2009 that the
Islands were never officially named and is seeking to
formalise the names North Island and South Island.
The board is also looking for alternative Māori names,
with Te Ika-a-Māui and Te Wai Pounamu the most
likely choices according to the chairman of the
Māori Language Commission.
settled New Zealand from Eastern
, concluding a long chain of
New Zealand was settled when Eastern
Polynesians arrived by
Radiocarbon dating of the oldest known
archaeological site, evidence of
mitochondrial DNA variability within Māori populations
all suggest the islands were permanently settled between
New Zealand was one of the last major landmasses settled and
concluded a long series of voyages. Although language,
archaeological, and genetic evidence suggest slightly
different patterns of migration, most agree that eastern
Polynesians are descended from people that emigrated from
Taiwan to Melanesia where they mixed with the native
inhabitants of the
They then travelled east reaching the
Society Islands between 1025–1120 AD according to dated
After a pause of 70–265 years a new wave of exploring
occured, resulting in the discovery and settling of New
Over the following centuries these settlers developed into a
distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was
divided into iwi
hapū (subtribes) which would cooperate, compete and
sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of
Māori migrated to the
Chatham Islands where they developed their distinct
Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch
explorer Abel Tasman and his crew in 1642.
In a hostile encounter, four crew members were killed and at
least one Māori was hit by
Europeans did not revisit New Zealand until 1769 when
British explorer James Cook mapped almost the entire
Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European
and North American
sealing and trading ships. They traded food, metal
tools, weapons and other goods for timber, food, artefacts,
water, and on occasion sex.
The introduction of the
transformed Māori agriculture and warfare. Potatoes provided
a reliable food surplus, enabling longer and more sustained
Wars encompassed over 600 battles between 1801 and 1840,
killing between 30,000–40,000 Māori.
From the early 19th century, Christian
missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually
converting most of the Māori population. Many early
converts were amongst captives from the Musket Wars and
later conversion was driven by the desire for
The Māori population declined to around 40 percent of its
pre-contact level during the 19th century, with introduced
diseases being the major factor.
The Waitangi sheet from the Treaty of Waitangi
Becoming aware of the lawless nature of European
settlement and of increasing French interest in the
territory, the British government appointed
Busby as British Resident to New Zealand in 1832.
Busby failed to bring law and order to European settlement,
but did oversee the introduction of the first national flag
on 20 March 1834. In October 1835, following an announcement
of impending French sovereignty, the nebulous
United Tribes of New Zealand sent the
Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand to King
William IV of the United Kingdom, asking him for
Ongoing unrest and the dubious legal standing of the
Declaration of Independence prompted the
Colonial Office to send Captain
William Hobson to claim sovereignty for the British
Crown and negotiate a treaty with the Māori.
Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in the
Islands on 6 February 1840.
Although it was drafted hastily and disagreements continue
to surround the translation, the Treaty is regarded as one
of the nation's founding documents and is valued by Māori as
a guarantee of their rights.
In response to the commercially run
New Zealand Company's attempts to establishing an
independent settlement in
and French settlers "purchasing" land in
Hobson declared British sovereignty over all of New Zealand
on 21 May 1840, even though copies of the Treaty were still
With the signing of the Treaty and declaration of
sovereignty the number of immigrants, particularly from the
Kingdom, began to increase.
New Zealand, originally part of the colony of
South Wales, became a separate
colony in 1841
and Hobson moved the capital from
The Māori were initially eager to trade with the settlers
and many iwi became wealthy. As immigrant numbers increased,
conflicts over land led to the
New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s and 1870s, resulting
in the loss and confiscation of much Māori land.
The colony gained a
representative government in 1852 and the
1st New Zealand Parliament met in 1854.
In 1856 the colony effectively became self-governing,
gaining responsible over all domestic matters other than
native policy (control over native policy was granted in the
Following concerns that the South Island might form a
separate colony, premier
Domett moved a resolution to transfer the capital to a
locality near the
Wellington was chosen due to its harbour and central
location, with parliament officially sitting there for the
first time in 1865. In 1893 the country became the first
nation in the world to grant all
women the right to vote.
and 21st centuries
In 1907 New Zealand declared itself a
Dominion within the
British Empire and in 1947 the country adopted the
Statute of Westminster, making New Zealand a
New Zealand was involved in world affairs, fighting with the
British Empire in the
second World Wars
and suffered through the
The depression led to the election of the
first Labour government and the establishment of a
state and a
New Zealand experienced increasing prosperity following
World War II
and Māori began to leave their traditional rural life and
move to the cities in search of work.
Māori protest movement developed, which criticised
Eurocentrism and worked for greater recognition of
culture and the Treaty of Waitangi.
In 1975, a
Waitangi Tribunal was set up to investigate alleged
breaches of the Treaty, and it was enabled to investigate
historic grievances in 1985.
Britain joined the
European Economic Community in 1973 drastically reducing
New Zealand's export market
fourth Labour government to initiate a radical
market liberalisation programme.
New Zealand is a
constitutional monarchy with a
and has a
constitution, although it is not
Queen Elizabeth II is the
Queen of New Zealand and the
The Queen is represented by the
whom she appoints on the exclusive advice of the
The Governor-General can exercise the Crown's
prerogative powers (such as reviewing cases of injustice
and making appointments of Cabinet ministers,
ambassadors and other key public officials)
and in rare situations, the
reserve powers (the power to dismiss a Prime Minister,
dissolve Parliament or refuse the
Assent of a
bill into law).
The Queen and Governor-General powers are limited by
constitutional constraints and they normally can not be
exercised without the advice of
Parliament of New Zealand is the supreme
legislative power and consists of the Sovereign
(represented by the Governor-General) and the
House of Representatives.
The supremacy of the House over the Sovereign was
established in England by the
Bill of Rights 1689 and has been ratified as law in New
The House of Representatives is democratically elected and a
Government is formed from the party or
coalition with the majority of seats.
If no majority is formed a
minority government can be formed if support from other
parties is obtained through confidence votes. The
Governor-General appoints ministers under advice from the
Prime Minister, who is by convention, the
Parliamentary leader of the governing party or
Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, is the highest
policy-making body in government and is formed by most of
The first judge of the
was appointed in 1842 when New Zealand become a crown colony
and was no longer under the jurisdiction of the
New South Wales Supreme Court.
Judges and judicial officers are appointed non-politically
and under strict rules regarding
order to maintain constitutional independence from the
This theoretically allows the judiciary to interpret the law
based solely on policies passed by Parliament without other
influences on their decision.
Privy Council in London was the final court of appeal
until 2004 when it was abolished and replaced with the
Supreme Court of New Zealand, now New Zealands highest
court. The judiciary, headed by the
Court of Appeal, the
High Court, and subordinate courts
parliamentary general elections between 1853 and 1996
were held under the
first past the post system.
Under this system the elections since 1930 have been
dominated by two
Since 1996, a form of
proportional representation called
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) has been used.
Under the MMP system each person has two votes, one is for
the 65 electoral seats (including seven reserved for Māori)
and the other is for a party. The remaining 55 seats are
assigned so that representation in parliament reflects the
party vote, although a party has to win one electoral seat
or 5 percent of the total party vote before it is eligible
for these seats. Between March 2005 and August 2006 New
Zealand became the only country in the world in which all
the highest offices in the land (Head of State,
Governor-General, Prime Minister,
Speaker and Chief Justice) were occupied simultaneously
Early colonial New Zealand allowed the British Government
to determine external trade and be responsible for foreign
The 1923 and 1926
Imperial Conferences decided that New Zealand should be
allowed to negotiate their own political
treaties, with the first successful commercial treaty
being with Japan in 1928. Despite this independence New
Zealand readily followed Britain in
declaring war on Germany on 3 September 1939 with then
Michael Savage proclaiming, "Where she goes, we go;
where she stands, we stand."
In 1951 New Zealand joined
Australia and the
United States in the
while the United Kingdom became increasingly focused on its
The influence of the United States on New Zealand weakened
following protests over the
the failure of the United States to admonish France after
sinking of the Rainbow Warrior,
disagreements over environmental and agricultural trade
New Zealand's nuclear-free policy.
Despite the USA's suspension of ANZUS obligations the treaty
remained in effect between New Zealand and Australia, whose
foreign policy has followed a similar historical trend.
Close political contact is maintained between the two
free trade agreements and
travel arrangements that allow citizens to visit, live
and work in both countries without restrictions.
Currently over 500,000 New Zealanders live in Australia and
65,000 Australians live in New Zealand.
New Zealand has a strong presence among the
Pacific Island countries. A large proportion of New
Zealand's aid goes to the islands and many migrate to New
Zealand for employment.
New Zealand is involved in the
Pacific Islands Forum,
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum
New Zealand is also a member of the
Commonwealth of Nations,
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Five Powers Defence Arrangements.
2007 ANZAC Dawn Service in Wellington. From left
to right, the flags of NZ, the UK and Australia.
The New Zealand Defence Force has three branches: the
Zealand Army, the
Royal New Zealand Navy and the
Royal New Zealand Air Force.
national defence needs are modest due to the
unlikelihood of direct attack,
although it does have a global presence; fighting in both
world wars, with notable campaigns in
The Gallipoli campaign played an important part in fostering
and strengthened the
ANZAC tradition between New Zealand and Australia.
New Zealand also played key parts in the naval
Battle of the River Plate
Battle of Britain air campaign.
Pacific part of
War II, the United States had more than 400,000 American
military personnel stationed in New Zealand.
In addition to Vietnam and the two world wars, New
Zealand fought in the
Second Boer War,
the Gulf War
Afghanistan War. It contributed forces to recent
regional and global peacekeeping missions, such as those in
Bosnia and Herzegovina, the
East Timor, and the
New Zealand also sent a unit of army engineers to help
Iraqi infrastructure for one year during the
Local government and external territories
The early European settlers divided New Zealand into
provinces, which had a degree of autonomy.
These were abolished in 1876 and government was centralised
due to financial pressure and the desire to consolidate
railways, education, land sales and other policies.
As a result, New Zealand now has no separately represented
subnational entities. However remnants of the provinces
live on in competitive rivalries exhibited in sporting and
local government has administered the various regions of
In 1989, the government
decentralised local government into the current two-tier
regional councils and
that existed in 1975 have now been consolidated into 73
territorial authorities and 11 regional councils.
The regional councils role is to regulate "the natural
environment with particular emphasis on
while territorial authorities are responsible for sewage,
water, local roads, building consents and other local
Five of the territorial councils are
unitary authorities and also act as regional councils.
The territorial authorities consist of 16 city councils, 57
district councils, and the
Chatham Islands Council. While officially the Chatham
Islands Council is not a Unitary Authority it undertakes
many functions of a regional council.
New Zealand is part of the
monarchy and one of 16 realms within the comonwealth.
The Realm of New Zealand comprises New Zealand,
Ross Dependency, the
The Cook Islands and Niue are self-governing in
free association with New Zealand.
The New Zealand Parliament can not pass legislation, but
with the countries consent can act on behalf of them in
foreign affairs and defence. Tokelau is a non-self-governing
territory that uses the New Zealand flag and anthem, but is
administered by a council of three elders (one for each of
Ross Dependency is New Zealand's
Antarctic territory, where it operates the
New Zealand is made up of two main islands, and a number
smaller islands, located near the centre of the
water hemisphere. The country's islands lie between
53°S, and longitudes
176°E. The main North and South Islands are separated by
Strait, 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide at its narrowest
The total land area of 268,021 square kilometres (103,483
is a little less than that of
a little more than the
New Zealand is long (over 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) along
its north-north-east axis) and narrow (a maximum width of
400 kilometres (250 mi)),
with approximately 15,134 km (9,404 mi) of coastline.
The five largest inhabited islands behind the North and
South Island are Stewart Island/Rakiura, the Chatham Islands
(named Rēkohu by Moriori),
Great Barrier Island (in the
d'Urville Island (in the
Waiheke Island (about 17.7 km (11.0 mi) from Auckland).
The country has extensive marine resources, with the
Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering over
4 million square kilometres (1.5 million square miles), more
than 15 times its land area.
The South Island is the largest
land mass of New Zealand, and is divided along its
length by the
There are 18 peaks over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), the highest
of which is
Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3,754 metres (12,316 ft).
The top of South Island contains areas of
Kahurangi and other
in the south-western corner of the South Island, is an area
of high mountains cut through with steep
The North Island is less mountainous but is
marked by volcanism.
The highly active
Taupo volcanic zone has formed a large
volcanic plateau. The North Island's highest mountain,
Ruapehu 2,797 metres (9,177 ft), and the country's
are found on this plateau.
island's north is a flatter area, once covered by huge
The country owes its varied topography, and perhaps even
its emergence above the waves, to the dynamic boundary it
straddles between the
New Zealand is part of
microcontinent nearly half the size of Australia that
gradually submerged after breaking away from the
About 25 million years ago, a shift in
plate tectonic movements began to
contort and crumple the region. This is now most evident
in the Southern Alps, formed by
compression of the crust beside the
Fault. Elsewhere the plate boundary involves the
of one plate under the other, producing the
Puysegur Trench to the south, the
Hikurangi Trench east of the North Island, and the
The latitude of New Zealand corresponds closely to that
of Italy in the Northern Hemisphere, but its isolation from
continental influences and exposure to cold southerly winds
and ocean currents give the climate a much milder character.
The climate throughout the country is mild and temperate,
maritime, with mean annual temperatures ranging from
10°C in the south to 16°C in the north. Historical
maxima and minima are 42.4 °C (108.3 °F) in
Canterbury and −21.6 °C (−6.9 °F) in
Conditions vary sharply across regions from extremely wet
West Coast of the
Island to almost
Otago and the
Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury and
Of the seven largest cities,
Christchurch is the driest, receiving on average only
640 millimetres (25 in) of rain per year and Auckland the
wettest, receiving almost twice that amount.
Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch all receive a yearly
average in excess of 2,000 hours of sunshine. The southern
and south-western parts of the South Island have a cooler
and cloudier climate, with around 1,400–1,600 hours; the
northern and north-eastern parts of the South Island are the
sunniest areas of the country and receive approximately
geographic isolation for 80 million years
biogeography is responsible for the country's unique
They have either
Gondwanan wildlife or the few organisms that have
managed to reach the shores through
being carried across the sea.
About 82 percent of New Zealand's indigenous
endemic, covering 1,944 species across 65
genera and includes a single
The two main types of forest are those dominated by
podocarps and/or the giant kauri, and in cooler climates
The remaining vegetation types consist of grasslands, the
majority of which are
The endemic flightless
is a national icon
Before the arrival of humans an estimated 80 percent of
the land was covered in forest, with only
high alpine, wet, infertile and volcanic areas without
The forests were dominated by birds, the lack of mammalian
predators led to some like the
The arrival of humans, and the introduction of
rats, ferrets and other mammals led to the
of a number of bird species, including
large birds like the
Other indigenous animals are represented by reptiles (tuataras,
frogs, spiders (katipo)
Three species of bats (one since extinct) were the only sign
of native land mammals in New Zealand until the 2006
discovery of bones from a unique, mouse-sized land mammal.
Marine mammals however are abundant, with almost half the
porpoises) and large numbers of
fur seals reported in New Zealand waters.
Since human arrival an estimated fifty one birds, three
frogs, three lizards, one freshwater fish, four plant
species, one bat and a number of invertebrates have become
Others are endangered or have had their habitat severely
New Zealand conservationist's pioneered the use of
island restoration as a means to protect these
and 220 islands larger than 5 hectares were marked as
possible sanctuaries by 2009.
New Zealand has a modern, prosperous and
economy with an estimated
gross domestic product (GDP) at
purchasing power parity (PPP)
between US$27,420 and $US29,352.[n
New Zealand dollar, informally known as the "Kiwi
dollar", is the currency of New Zealand. It also circulates
in the Cook Islands (see
Cook Islands dollar), Niue, Tokelau, and the
New Zealand has a relatively high standard of living,
comparable to that of
It was ranked 4th in the 2011
Index of Economic Freedom published by
The Heritage Foundation
and 8th out of 30 countries by the OECD for happiness.
In 2010, Auckland was ranked the 4th most
livable city and Wellington the 12th by the
Mercer Quality of Life Survey
Historically, extractive industries have contributed
strongly to New Zealand's economy, focussing at different
times on marine mammals,
and native timber.
the development of refrigerated shipping in the 1880s
meat and dairy products were exported to Britain, a trade
which provided the basis for strong economic growth in New
High demand for agricultural products from the United
Kingdom and the United States helped New Zealanders achieve
higher living standards than both Australia and
Western Europe in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1973 New Zealand's export market was reduced when the
United Kingdom joined the European Community and other
compounding factors, such as the
1973 oil and
1979 energy crisis, led to a severe
Living standards in New Zealand fell behind those of
Australia and Western Europe, and by 1982 New Zealand had
the lowest per-capita income of all the developed nations
the World Bank.
Since 1984, successive governments engaged in major
macroeconomic restructuring (known first as
Rogernomics and then
rapidly transforming New Zealand from a highly
protectionist economy to a liberalised
Unemployment peaked above 10 percent in 1991 and 1992,
1987 share market crash, but eventually fell a record
low of 3.4 percent in 2007 (ranking fifth from twenty-seven
comparable OECD nations).
global financial crisis that followed however had a
major impact on New Zealand with the GDP shrinking for five
consecutive quarters, the longest recession in over thirty
and unemployment rising back to 7 percent in late 2009.
New Zealand has experienced a series of "brain
drains" since the 1970s
that still continue today.
Nearly one quarter of highly-skilled workers live overseas,
most in Australia and Britain, the most from any developed
In recent years, however, a "brain
gain" has brought in educated professionals from Europe
and lesser developed countries.
New Zealand is heavily dependent on international trade,
Exports account for a high 24 percent of its output,
making New Zealand vulnerable to international commodity
prices and global
economic slowdowns. Its principal export industries are
fishing, forestry and mining, which make up about half
of the country's exports.
Its major export partners are Australia, United States,
Japan, China, and the United Kingdom.
On 7 April 2008, New Zealand and China signed the
New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement, the first such
agreement China has signed with a developed country.
The service sector is the largest sector in the economy,
followed by manufacturing and construction and then farming
and raw material extraction.
Tourism plays a significant role in New Zealand's
economy contributed $15.0 billion to New Zealand’s total GDP
and supported 9.6 percent of the total workforce in 2010.
International visitors to New Zealand increased by
3.1 percent in the year to October 2010
and are expected to increase at a rate of 2.5 percent
annually up to 2015.
ewe with her two lambs.
Wool was New Zealand’s major agricultural export during
the late 19th century.
Even as late as the 1960s it made up over a third of all
but since then its price has steadily dropped relative to
and wool is no longer profitable for many farmers.
In contrast dairy farming increased, with the number of
dairy cows doubling between 1990 and 2007,
to become New Zealand's largest export earner.
In the year to June 2009, dairy products accounted for
21 percent ($9.1 billion) of total merchandise exports,
and the largest company in the country,
controls almost one-third of the international dairy trade.
Other agricultural exports in 2009 were meat 13.2 percent,
wool 6.3 percent, fruit 3.5 percent and fishing 3.3 percent.
New Zealand's wine industry has followed a similar trend
to dairy, the number of vineyards doubling over the same
overtaking wool exports briefly in 2007.
The government offered a number of subsidies during the
1970s to assist farmers after the United Kingdom joined the
European Economic Community
and by the early 1980s government support provided some
farmers with 40 percent of their income.
In 1984 the Labour government ended all farm subsidies,
and by 1990 the agricultural industry became the most
deregulated sector in New Zealand.
To stay competitive in the heavily subsidised European and
US markets New Zealand farmers had to increase the
efficiency of their operations.
Animal farming is pasture based, cows and sheep are rarely
housed or fed large quantities of grain, with most farmers
using grass based supplements such as hay and
during feed shortages. Pigs are usually kept indoors, either
farrowing crates, fattening pens, or group housing.
In 2008, oil, gas and coal generated approximately
69 percent of
New Zealand's gross energy supply and 31 per cent was
renewable energy, primarily
hydroelectric power and
New Zealand's transport network consists of 93,906
kilometres of roads and is worth 23 billion dollars.
Most major cities and towns are linked by bus services,
although the private car is the predominant mode of
Railways were privatised in 1993 and then re-purchased
by the government in 2004 and vested into a
state owned enterprise.
Railways run the length of the country, although most lines
now carry freight rather than passengers.
Most international visitors arrive via air
and New Zealand has
seven international airports, although currently
Christchurch airports connect directly with countries
other than Australia or Fiji.
New Zealand Post Office had a
telecommunications until 1989 when
Telecom New Zealand was formed, initially as state-owned
enterprise and then
privatised in 1990.
Telecom still owns the majority of the telecommunications
infrastructure, but competition from other providers has
Ethnicity and immigration
New Zealand's historical population (black) and
projected growth (red).
The population of New Zealand is approximately
In the 2006 census, 67.6 percent identified ethnically as
European and 14.6 percent as Māori.
Other major ethnic groups include Asian (9.2 percent) and
Pacific peoples (6.9 percent), while 11.1 percent identified
themselves simply as a "New Zealander" (or similar) and
1 percent identified with other ethnicities.[n
11] This contrasts with 1961, when the census
reported that the population of New Zealand was 92 percent
European and 7 percent Māori, with Asian and Pacific
minorities sharing the remaining 1 percent.
demonym for a New Zealand citizen is New Zealander, the
is commonly used both internationally
and by locals.
Pākehā usually refers to
New Zealanders of European descent, although some reject
and some Māori use it to refer to all non-Polynesian New
The Māori were the first people to reach New Zealand,
followed by the early European settlers. Following
colonisation, immigrants were predominantly from Britain,
Ireland and Australia due to restrictive policies similar to
white Australian policies.
There was also significant Dutch,
Italian, and German immigration together with indirect
European immigration through Australia, North America, South
America and South Africa.
Great Depression policies were relaxed and migrant
diversity increased. In 2008–09, a target of 45,000 migrants
was set by the New Zealand Immigration Service (plus a 5,000
Twenty-three percent of New Zealand's population are born
overseas, most living in the Auckland region.
While most still come from the United Kingdom and Ireland
(29 percent), immigration from East Asia (mostly mainland
China, but with substantial numbers also from Korea, Taiwan,
Japan, and Hong Kong) is increasing the fastest.
The number of fee-paying
international students increased sharply in the late
1990s, with more than 20,000 studying in public
tertiary institutions in 2002.
New Zealand is a predominantly urban country, with
72 percent of the population living in 16 main urban areas
and 53 percent living in the four largest cities of
Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, and
The life expectancy of a child born in 2008 was 82.4 years
for a girl, and 78.4 years for a boy.
Life expectancy at birth is forecast to increase from 80
years to 85 years in 2050 and infant mortality is expected
to decline 2050.
In 2050 the population is forecast to reach 5.3 million, the
median age to rise from 36 years to 43 years and the
percentage of people 60 years of age and older rising from
18 percent to 29 percent.
English is the predominant language in New Zealand,
spoken by 98 percent of the population.
New Zealand English is similar to
Australian English and many speakers from the Northern
Hemisphere are unable to tell the
After the Second World War, Māori were discouraged from
speaking their own language (te
reo Māori) in schools and workplaces and it existed
as a community language only in a few remote areas.
It has recently undergone a process of revitalisation,
being declared one of New Zealand's official languages in
and is spoken by 4.1 percent of the population.
There are now Māori language immersion schools and two
Māori Television channels, the only nationwide
television channels to have the majority of their prime-time
content delivered in Māori.
Samoan is the most widely spoken non-official language (2.3 percent),[n
12] followed by French, Hindi, Yue and Northern
New Zealand Sign Language is used by approximately
28,000 people and was made New Zealands third official
language in 2006.
Education and Religion
Primary and secondary schooling is compulsory for
children aged 6 to 16, with the majority attending from the
age of 5.
There are 13 school years and attending
public schools is free. New Zealand has an adult
literacy rate of 99 percent,
and over half of the population aged 15 to 29 hold a
14] In the adult population 14.2 percent have a
bachelor's degree or higher, 30.4 percent have some form
of secondary qualification as their highest qualification
and 22.4 percent have no formal qualification.
Christianity is the predominant religion in New Zealand,
held by 55.6 percent of the population with another
34.7 percent indicated that they had no religion, up from
29.6 percent in 2001, and around 4 percent affiliated with
15] The main Christian denominations are
Methodism. There are also significant numbers who
identify themselves with
LDS (Mormon) churches. The New Zealand-based
Ratana church has adherents among Māori. According to
census figures, other significant minority religions
List of cities in New Zealand
Hamilton Urban Area
Bay of Plenty Region
Napier-Hastings Urban Area
Hawke's Bay Region
Bay of Plenty Region
Late twentieth-century house-post depicting the
fighting two sea creatures
Early Māori developed their own distinctive culture based
Polynesian culture. Social organisation was largely
communal with families (whanau), sub-tribes (hapu) and
tribes (iwi) ruled by a chief (rangatira) whose position was
subject to the communities approval.
The British and Irish immigrants brought aspects of their
own culture to New Zealand and also influenced Māori
particularly with the introduction of Christianity.
However, Māori still regard their allegiance to tribal
groups as a vital part of
their identity, and Māori kinship roles resemble
those of other Polynesian peoples.
Asian and other
European cultures have exerted influence on New Zealand.
Non-Māori Polynesian cultures are also apparent, with
Pasifika, the world's largest Polynesian festival, now
an annual event in Auckland.
The largely rural life in early New Zealand led to the
image of New Zealanders being rugged, industrious problem
solvers and overly modest types.
At this time New Zealand was not known as an intellectual
and the phenomena known as the "Tall
poppy syndrome", where high achievers are criticised
harsher than their less successful peers was evident.
Māori culture was suppressed by the attempted assimilation
of Māori into British New Zealanders.
In the 1960s as higher education became more available and
urban culture began to dominate.
Even though the majority of the population now lives in
cities, much of New Zealand's art, literature, film and
humour has rural themes.
As part of the resurgence of Māori culture, the
traditional crafts of carving and weaving are now more
widely practiced and Māori artists are increasing in number
Most Māori carvings feature human figures, generally with
three fingers and either a natural-looking, detailed head or
a grotesque head.
Surface patterns consisting of spirals, ridges, notches and
fish scales decorate most carvings.
The pre-eminent Māori architecture consisted of carved
meeting houses (marae)
decorated with symbolic carvings and illustrations. These
buildings were diverse and originally designed to be
constantly rebuilt, changing and adapting to different whims
Māori decorated the white wood of buildings, canoes and
cenotaphs using red (a mixture of
red ochre and shark fat) and black (made from soot)
paint and painted pictures of birds, reptiles and other
designs on cave walls.
Māori tattoos (Moko)
consisting of coloured soot mixed with gum were cut into the
flesh with a bone chisel.
Since European arrival paintings and photographs have been
dominated by landscapes, originally not as works of art but
to record information about New Zealand.
Portraits of Māori were also common, with early painters
often portraying them as "Nobel Savages", exotic beauties or
The countries isolation delayed the influence of European
artistic trends allowing local artists to developed their
own distinctive style of
During the 1960s and 70s many artists combined traditional
Māori and Western techniques, creating unique art forms.
New Zealand art and craft has gradually achieved an
international audience, with exhibitions in the
Venice Biennale in 2001 and the "Paradise Now" exhibiton
in New York in 2004.
Māori cloaks are made of fine flax fibre and patterned
with black, red and white triangles, diamonds and other
Greenstone was fashioned into earrings and necklaces; with
the most well-known design being the
a distorted human figure sitting cross-legged with its head
tilted to the side.
Europeans brought English fashion etiquette to New Zealand,
and until the 1950s most people dressed up for social
Standards have since relaxed and New Zealand fashion has
received a reputation for being casual, practical and
However, the local fashion industry has grown significantly
since 2000, increasing from a handful to about 50
established labels and doubling exports, with some labels
gaining international recognition.
Māori quickly adopted writing as a means of sharing
ideas, and many of their oral stories and poems were
converted to the written form.
Most early English literature was obtained from Britain and
it was not until the 1950s when local publishing outlets
New Zealand Literature started to become widely known.
Although still largely influenced by global trends (modernism)
and events (the Great Depression), writers in the 1930s
began to develop stories increasingly focused on their
experiences in New Zealand. During this period literature
changed from a
journalistic based activity to a more academic pursuit.
Participation in the world wars gave some New Zealand
writers a new perspective on New Zealand culture and with
the post-war expansion of universities local literature
Literature, driven by debates amongst the countries poets in
the fifties, has moved from a nationalistic agenda to a more
inclusive version of New Zealand and a desire to obtain
New Zealand music has been influenced by blues, jazz,
country, rock and roll and hip hop, with many of these
genres given a New Zealand and Polynesian interpretation.
Māori developed traditional chants and songs rooted from
their ancient South-East Asian origins, and after years of
isolation created a unique "monotonous" and "doleful" sound.
Flutes and trumpets were used as musical instruments
or as signaling devices during war or special occasions.
Early settlers brought over their ethnic music, which
predominately consisted of
choral music, and musicians began touring New Zealand in
The New Zealand recording industry began to develop from
1940 onwards and many New Zealand musicians have obtained
success in Britain and the USA.
Some artists release Māori language songs and the Māori
tradition-based art of
(song and dance) has made a resurgence.
Radio first arrived in New Zealand in 1922 and television
in 1960, with the number of
New Zealand films significantly increased during the
In 1978 the
New Zealand Film Commission started assisting local
film-makers and many films attained a world audience, some
receiving international acknowledgement. Deregulation in the
1980s saw a sudden increase in the numbers of radio and
New Zealand television broadcasts mostly American and
British programming, along with a large number of Australian
and local shows. The country's diverse scenery and compact
size, plus government incentives,
has encouraged some
producers to film big budget movies in New Zealand.
New Zealand media industry is dominated by a small
number of companies, most of which are foreign-owned,
although the state retains ownership of some television and
radio stations. Between 2003 and 2008,
Reporters Without Borders consistently ranked New
Zealand's press freedom in the top twenty.
Most of the major sporting codes played in New Zealand
have English origins,
and rugby union, cricket, bowls, netball, soccer,
motorsports, golf, swimming and tennis are the most popular.[n
football tours to Australia and the United Kingdom in
late 1880s and the
early 1900s played an early role in instilling a
although its influence has since reduced.
Horse racing was also a popular
spectator sport and became part of the "Rugby, Racing
and Beer" culture during the 1960s.
Māori participation in European sports was particularly
evident in rugby and a
haka (traditional Māori challenge) is performed before
the start of international matches.
New Zealand has competitive international teams in
rugby league, and
softball and has traditionally done well in triathlons,
rowing, yachting and cycling. The country is internationally
recognised for performing well on a medals-to-population
Olympic Games and
New Zealand is well known for its
and strong mountaineering tradition.
Other outdoor pursuits such as tramping, hunting and fishing
are also popular. The Polynesian sport of
racing has increased in popularity and is now an
international sport involving teams from all over the
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