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New Zealand

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For alternative meanings, see New Zealand (disambiguation).

New Zealand is a country of two major islands and a number of smaller islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. New Zealand's most common name in the indigenous Māori language is Aotearoa, which is popularly taken to mean Land of the Long White Cloud. When early Māori settlers approached New Zealand they saw a white cloud stretching across the horizon and sky. A former Māori name for New Zealand was Niu Tireni, a transliteration of the English name. The Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840, called it Nu Tirani.

New Zealand is the most geographically-isolated country on Earth. Closest neighbour Australia is 2,000 km to the northwest of the main islands. The only landmass to the south is Antarctica, and to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga.

Aotearoa
New Zealand
Flag of New Zealand
New Zealand - Coat of Arms
(In Detail)
National motto: None. Formerly "Onward"
image:LocationNewZealand.png
Official languages English, Māori, NZSL
Capital Wellington
Queen Elizabeth II
Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright
Prime Minister Helen Clark
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 73rd
268,680 km2
Negligible
Population
 - Total
 - Density
Ranked 120th
4,054,200 (March 2004)
15.089/km²
Independence
 - Date
UK
September 26, 1907
Currency New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Time zones UTC +12 NZST
UTC +13 NZDT (Oct-Mar)
Note: Chatham Islands are 45 minutes ahead of New Zealand
National anthems God Defend New Zealand God Save The Queen
Internet TLD .nz
Calling Code +64

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 History
3 Politics
4 Judiciary
5 Local Government
6 Geography
7 Economy
8 Demographics
9 Culture
10 See also
11 External links

Overview

Of New Zealand's four million people, roughly three million live in the North Island and one million in the South Island. These islands are among the largest in the world, and the combined land area is comparable to the British Isles or Colorado.

Other islands have much smaller populations, and cover much less land area. The most significant of these islands are:

Places in New Zealand:

History

Main article:
History of New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major land masses. Polynesian settlers arrived probably some time between 500 and 1300 AD, and established the indigenous Māori culture.

The first Europeans known 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 named Staaten Landt. It was later named "Nieuw Zeeland" after the area in Batavia where they had been based, which in turn was named 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 Māori established British sovereignty over New Zealand.

New Zealand became an independent dominion on 26 September, 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 by the New Zealand Parliament in 1947, since when New Zealand has been a sovereign constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations.

Politics

Main article: Politics of New Zealand

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Under the New Zealand Royal Titles Act (1953), Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of New Zealand and is represented as head of state by the Governor-General, Dame Silvia Cartwright.

Parliament consists of the 120-member unicameral House of Representatives, from which an executive Cabinet of about 20 ministers is appointed. There is no written constitution.

The Cabinet is led by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, currently Helen Clark of the centre-left Labour party, which governs in coalition with the further-left Progressive 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. The Leader of the Opposition is Don Brash who became leader of the National party on 28 October 2003. Currently seven parties are represented in the House of Representatives, which since 1996 has been elected by a form of proportional representation called Mixed Member Proportional ("MMP").

A true-colour image of the North Island. The scene was acquired by NASA's Terra satellite, on October 23, 2002
A true-colour image of the South Island. The scene was acquired by NASA's Terra satellite, on October 23, 2002
A true-colour image of the region around Auckland on the North Island. Auckland is the brownish patch just left of centre. The scene was acquired by NASA's Terra satellite, on October 23, 2002

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 US 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 is a member of the following geo-political organizations:

Judiciary

New Zealand has a High Court (until 1980 known as the Supreme Court) and a Court of Appeal (formerly part of the Supreme Court), as well as subordinate courts. Until 2004, appeals from decisions of the Court of Appeal could be appealed to Her Majesty in Council, who referred the case to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

The current Chief Justice is Dame Sian Elias.

In 2003 the Supreme Court Act was passed, abolishing appeals to the Privy Council, with effect from 2004 and setting up a Supreme Court of New Zealand in Wellington.

Local Government

Main articles: Regions of New Zealand, Territorial Authorities of New Zealand

When originally settled, New Zealand was divided into provinces. 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. The spirit of the provinces however still lives on and there is fierce rivalry exhibited in sporting and cultural events.

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 or had boundary adjustments by mutual agreement, and a few new ones were created. Finally, in 1989, the government performed a complete reorganisation of local government, and implemented the current two-tier structure of regional councils and territorial authorities.

Today New Zealand has 16 regions for the administration of environmental and transport matters and 74 territorial authorities that administer roading, sewerage, building consents, and other local matters. The territorial authorities are 16 city councils, 57 district councils, and the Chatham Islands Council. Four of the territorial councils (unitary authorities) have regional functions as well, within their areas. The Chatham Islands Council similarly combines functions. The 12 larger regions each have a separately-elected regional council. A few territorial authorities straddle regional council boundaries.

Geography

Main article: Geography of New Zealand

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 18 peaks of more than 3000 metres 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 usual climate throughout the country is mild, mostly cool temperate to warm temperate, with temperatures rarely falling below 0ðC or rising above 30ðC. 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 5.9ðC and the average maximum temperature in summer is 20.3ðC.

Scenic backdrop

New Zealand's scenery has appeared in a number of
television programmess and films. In particular, and 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 animalsNew Zealand plantsList of New Zealand birdsTrees of New Zealand

Because of its long isolation from the rest of the world, New Zealand has 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 non-marine 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

Main article: Economy of New Zealand

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.

In 2004 it began discussing free trade with the China, one of the first countries to do so.

During the late 1980s, the New Zealand Government sold a number of major trading enterprises, including 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 establish business objectives yet prevent 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

Main article: Demographics of New Zealand

About 80% of the New Zealand population is of European descent. Māori people are the second largest ethnic group (14.7%). Between the 1996 and 2001 censuses, the number of people of Asian origin (6.6%) overtook that of Pacific Islanders (6.5%) (note that the census allowed multiple ethnic affiliations). Acceptance of Māori culture continues to grow, especially with the recent introduction of a Māori Television service.

The main Christian denominations are Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Roman Catholicism and Methodism. Over a third of the population is unaffiliated.

Culture

Main articles: Culture of New Zealand, Culture of the Māori

See also: New Zealand English, New Zealand cinema, New Zealand literature, Music of New Zealand, Iwi

Public Holidays

See also: Holidays in New Zealand

Statutory Holidays
(These holidays are legislated by several Acts of Parliament.)

Date Holiday
1 January (or the following Monday if it falls on a weekend) New Year's Day
2 January (or the following Monday or Tuesday if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday) Day after New Year's Day
6 February Waitangi day
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday
The first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox Easter Sunday
The day after Easter Sunday Easter Monday
25 April ANZAC Day
The first Monday in June Queen's Birthday
The fourth Monday in October Labour Day
25 December (or the following Monday if it falls on a weekend) Christmas Day
26 December (or the following Monday or Tuesday if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday) Boxing Day

There are also Provincial Anniversary Days to celebrate the founding days or landing days of the first colonists of the various colonial provinces. The actual observance of Anniversary days can vary even within each province due to local custom, convenience or the proximity of seasonal events or other holidays. This may differ from the historical observance day, and may be several weeks from the historic date of the events being commemorated. A full list of Anniversary days is listed in the article Holidays in New Zealand.

Annual Leave and Non-working days

In addition to the holidays listed above New Zealand workers have a minimum of three weeks' annual leave, 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. 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 three working days between Christmas and New Year, many workers take this time off, as they can have a 10 day summer break for only three 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 official 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.

Sick leave is separate from annual leave. Most employees are entitled to five days of sick pay a year after working for six months for their employer. Many jobs provide more generous sick leave than this. Sick leave can be taken when the worker is ill or injured, or their spouse or a dependent person needs care due to illness or injury.

From 1 April 2007, the minimum annual leave is four weeks.

School Holidays

New Zealand schools have a four term year, of about 10 weeks each, and two or three weeks' holidays between terms. Although standard term dates are set by the Ministry of Education 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 one and two. The holidays between terms two and three are generally known as the midwinter break and occur in July. Those between terms three and four occur in late September and early October. Term four 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.

Sports

New Zealand's most popular sports are rugby (primarily rugby union but also rugby league), 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

Rugby as a sport is closely linked to New Zealand's national identity. The national rugby team is called the All Blacks and has the best winning record of any national team in the world. The 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 Māori war dance—is often performed at sporting events. The All Blacks traditionally perform a haka before the start of play.

Gliding

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 Fossett has recently tried to beat the world gliding altitude record there. (See external links.)

Yachting - America's Cup

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 headed by Ernesto Bertarelli of Switzerland whose Alinghi was skippered by Russell Coutts, the expatriate Kiwi who helmed the victorious Black Magic in 1995 and New Zealand in 2000.

National teams

See also

External links


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