New Zealand


New Zealand

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New Zealand is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean comprising two large islands (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands. In Maori, New Zealand is also known as Aotearoa, which is usually translated into English as the Land of the Long White Cloud.

The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue, which are self-governing, but in free association; Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica).

New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island form what is known by anthropologists as the Polynesian Triangle.

New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation, being separated from Australia to the northwest by the Tasman Sea, some 2000 kilometres (1250 miles) across. Its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga.

The population is mostly of European descent, with the indigenous Maori being the largest minority. Non-Maori Polynesian and Asian people are also significant minorities, especially in the cities.

Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the Head of State and is represented, in her absence, by a non-partisan Governor-General; the Queen 'reigns but does not rule', so she has no real political influence. Political power is held by the democratically-elected Parliament of New Zealand under the leadership of the Prime Minister who is the Head of Government.

Origin of name
There is no known pre-contact Maori name for New Zealand, although Maori referred to the North Island as Te Ika-a-Maui (the fish of Maui) and the South Island as Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of jade) or Te Waka-a-Maui (the canoe of Maui). Until the early 20th Century, the North Island was also referred to as Aotearoa, (often glossed as 'long white cloud'); in modern Maori usage this is the name for the whole country.

The first European visitor to New Zealand, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, named the place he visited Staten Landt, believing it to be part of the land Jacob Le Maire had seen in 1616 off the coast of Chile. Staten Landt appeared on Tasman's first maps of New Zealand, but this was changed by Dutch cartographers to Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland, some time after Hendrik Brouwer proved the supposedly South American land to be an island in 1643. The Latin Nova Zeelandia became Nieuw Zeeland in Dutch. British explorer James Cook subsequently called the archipelago New Zealand. He unimaginatively named the main three islands North, Middle and South, with the Middle Island being later called the South Island, and the earlier South Island becoming Stewart Island.

History
History of New Zealand

Polynesian foundation
New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major land masses. The first New Zealand settlers were Eastern Polynesians who came to New Zealand, probably in a series of migrations, between around 800 and 1300 AD. They found a country teeming with birdlife and waters full of fish and other kai moana (seafood). Like virtually every other people to arrive in a virgin ecosystem, they drove larger forms of prey, such as the moa, to extinction. Horticulture, mostly using tropical plants such as kumara, taro, and gourds, was of crucial importance. Systems were established which used Polynesian spiritual concepts such as tapu and rahui to conserve species hunted for food and feathers. The population was divided into hapu (subtribes) which would co-operate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. As was usual in Polynesia, when resources became more scarce, conflict increased and warfare took place. A new and indigenous culture, which would be known as Maori, had developed, although strongly based on, and akin to the cultures of Eastern Polynesia. At some point a group of Maori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their own distinct culture, known as the Moriori.


Early contact and Maori response
The first Europeans to reach New Zealand were led by Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman, in 1642. Several of his crew were killed by Maori and no Europeans were to return to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook's voyage of 1762. Cook extensively explored and mapped the islands. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. The whalers and sealers enthusiastically traded with Maori for timber, food, artefacts, water and sex, giving in return European food and goods, especially metal tools which the Maori lacked. Maori agriculture and warfare were transformed by the potato and the musket, although the resulting Musket Wars died out once the tribal imbalance of arms had been rectified. From the early 19th century, Christian missionaries, mostly from Britain, began to settle in New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Maori population. The missionaries were concerned at the lawless behaviour of other European visitors, and lobbied the British government to take some kind of control. From 1788 until the Treaty of Waitangi the islands of New Zealand were formally part of New South Wales.

The Treaty of Waitangi
Treaty of Waitangi

Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. After several ineffectual attempts in the 1830s to control European visitors and settlers without actually establishing British law in New Zealand, the British government sent William Hobson to New Zealand to claim sovereignty and negotiate a treaty with Maori. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in the Bay of Islands on 6 February 1840. The drafting was done hastily and inexpertly, leading to confusion and disagreement which has lasted until the present day. However the Treaty is generally acknowledged as New Zealand's foundation as a nation, and is revered by Maori as a guarantee of their rights.


Settlement and War

Gustavus von Tempsky is shot during the land wars.From 1840, European settlers streamed into New Zealand. At first many Maori were enthusiastic about the 'Pakeha', as they called them, and many iwi (tribes) became wealthy by selling food and other supplies to the new settlers. However, the settlers soon became resentful that Maori continued to own so much land. As settler numbers increased, Maori became more reluctant to sell land for fear of losing it completely. Tensions over this and the issue of who was ultimately in charge of the country led to the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s and 1870s. Although Maori were not decisively defeated, several iwi had most of their land confiscated. Many non-combatant and even 'friendly' iwi also lost much land in subsequent decades thanks in part to dubious land purchase agents and bureaucrats. The wars took place in the North Island; the South Island, with its low Maori population, was fairly peaceful and experienced massive European (and some Chinese) immigration as a result of gold discoveries in the early 1860s.


Nation-building
New Zealand was granted limited self-government in the 1850s, and by the late 19th century was a fully self governing country in most senses. In 1893 it became the first nation in the world to give women the vote; since Maori men had been able to vote since 1867, New Zealand can be said to have been the most democratic country in the world at the time. In 1907, New Zealand became an independent Dominion, and a fully independent nation in 1931, although in practice Britain had ceased to play any real role in the government of New Zealand much earlier than this. As New Zealand became more politically independent, it became more dependent economically; in the 1890s refrigerated shipping allowed New Zealand to base its entire economy on the export of meat and dairy products to Britain.


War and Depression
New Zealand was an enthusiastic member of the British Empire, fighting in the Boer War, World War One and World War Two, and supporting Britain in the Suez Crisis. The country was very much a part of the world economy, and suffered as others did in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The depression led to the election of the first Labour government, which established a comprehensive welfare state and a protectionist economy.


Post-war protest and change
New Zealand became wealthy following the end of World War Two; it had one of the world's highest living standards and no unemployment. However some social problems were developing. Maori had begun to move to the cities in search of work and excitement, and this exposed and exacerbated issues of racism. A large Maori protest movement would eventually form, demanding an end to discrimination and Eurocentrism, and recognition of Maori culture and the Treaty of Waitangi, which had been generally ignored since 1840. Other groups were also dissatisfied with life in New Zealand. As in other countries, young people protested against war and imperialism, New Zealand's military alliance with the United States, environmental damage, and the stifling conformity of society. In addition, by the 1970s the economic system was no longer functioning, partly because Britain's membership of the EEC damaged its trade ties with New Zealand. There were high rates of inflation, an overgrown bureaucracy, and limited consumer choice. Most of these dissatisfactions found voice in the fourth Labour government (1984–1990), which abolished protectionism, enabled the Waitangi Tribunal to investigate historic grievances, and refused to let nuclear powered ships into New Zealand waters. Subsequent governments have generally upheld these changes; New Zealand in 2000 was a very different place from New Zealand in 1980.


Government
More information on politics and government of New Zealand can be found at Politics of New Zealand, the main article in the Politics and government of New Zealand series.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of New Zealand wearing her New Zealand honours.

Helen Clark,
Prime Minister
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, currently Anand Satyanand.

New Zealand is the only country in the world in which all the highest offices in the land have been occupied simultaneously by women: Queen Elizabeth II, Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, Prime Minister Helen Clark, Speaker of the House of Representatives Margaret Wilson and Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias were all in office between March 2005 and August 2006.

The New Zealand Parliament has only one chamber, the House of Representatives, which usually seats 120 Members of Parliament. Parliamentary general elections are held every three years under a form of proportional representation called Mixed Member Proportional. The 2005 General Election created an 'overhang' of one extra seat, occupied by the Maori Party, due to that party winning more seats in electorates than the number of seats its proportion of the party vote would have given it.

Beehive, Parliament Buildings.There is no written constitution: the Constitution Act 1986 is the principal formal statement of New Zealand's constitutional structure. The Governor-General has the power to appoint and dismiss Prime Ministers and to dissolve Parliament. The Governor-General also chairs the Executive Council, which is a formal committee consisting of all ministers of the Crown. Members of the Executive Council are required to be Members of Parliament, and most are also in Cabinet. Cabinet is the most senior policy-making body and is led by the Prime Minister, who is also, by convention, the Parliamentary leader of the governing party or coalition.

The current Prime Minister is Helen Clark, leader of the Labour Party. She is serving her third term as Prime Minister. On 17 October 2005 she announced that she had come to a complex arrangement that guaranteed the support of enough parties for her Labour-led coalition to govern. The formal coalition consists of the Labour Party and Jim Anderton, the Progressive Party's only MP. In addition to the parties in formal coalition, New Zealand First and United Future provide confidence and supply in return for their leaders being ministers outside cabinet. A further arrangement has been made with the Green Party, which has given a commitment not to vote against the government on confidence and supply. This commitment assures the government of a majority of seven MPs on confidence.

The Leader of the Opposition, is National Party leader John Key. The ACT party and the Maori Party are both also in opposition. The Greens, New Zealand First and United Future all vote against the government on some legislation.

Major political parties:

Labour Party (50 seats)
National Party (48 seats)
Minor political parties (in Parliament):

ACT New Zealand (2 seats)
Green Party (6 seats)
New Zealand Progressive Party (Jim Anderton) (1 seat)
Maori Party (4 seats)
New Zealand First (7 seats)
United Future (3 seats)

The highest court in New Zealand is the Supreme Court of New Zealand, which was established in 2004 following the passage of the Supreme Court Act 2003. The Act abolished the option to appeal Court of Appeal rulings to the Privy Council in London. The current Chief Justice is Dame Sian Elias. New Zealand's judiciary also includes the High Court, which deals with serious criminal offences and civil matters, and the Court of Appeal, and subordinate courts.


Foreign relations and the military
Foreign relations of New Zealand, Military of New Zealand, and Military history of New Zealand
New Zealand maintains a strong profile on environmental protection, human rights and free trade, particularly in agriculture.

New Zealand is a member of the following geo-political organisations: APEC, East Asia Summit, Commonwealth of Nations, OECD and the United Nations. It has signed up to a number of free trade agreements, of which the most important is Closer Economic Relations with Australia.

For its first hundred years, New Zealand followed the United Kingdom's lead on foreign policy. In declaring war on Germany on 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Michael Savage proclaimed "Where she goes, we go; where she stands, we stand". Since the war, however, the United States has exerted more influence than the UK.

New Zealand has traditionally worked closely with Australia, whose foreign policy followed a similar historical trend. In turn, many Pacific Islands such as Western Samoa have looked to New Zealand's lead. The American influence on New Zealand was weakened by the disappointment with the Vietnam War, the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior by France, and by disagreements over environmental and agricultural trade issues and New Zealand's nuclear-free policy.

New Zealand is a party to the ANZUS security treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States. In February 1985, New Zealand refused nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships access to its ports. In 1986, the United States announced that it was suspending its treaty security obligations to New Zealand pending the restoration of port access. The New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987 prohibits the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of New Zealand and the entry into New Zealand waters of nuclear armed or propelled ships. This legislation remains a source of contention and the basis for the United States' continued suspension of treaty obligations to New Zealand.

In addition to the various wars between iwi, and between the British settlers and iwi, New Zealand has fought in the Second Boer War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency (and committed troops, fighters and bombers to the subsequent confrontation with Indonesia), the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the Afghanistan War, and sent a unit of army engineers to help rebuild Iraqi infrastructure for one year during the Iraq War.

The New Zealand military has three branches: the New Zealand Army, the Royal New Zealand Navy, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. New Zealand considers its own national defence needs to be modest; it dismantled its air combat capability in 2001. New Zealand has contributed forces to recent regional and global peacekeeping missions, including those in Cyprus, Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Sinai, Angola, Cambodia, the Iran/Iraq border, Bougainville and East Timor.


Local government and external territories

Major cities and towns in New Zealand.Main articles: Realm of New Zealand, Regions of New Zealand, and Territorial authorities of New Zealand
The early European settlers divided New Zealand 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 entities such as provinces, states or territories, 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. In 1989, the government completely reorganised local government, implementing the current two-tier structure of regional councils and territorial authorities.

Today New Zealand has twelve regional councils for the administration of environmental and transport matters and seventy-four territorial authorities that administer roading, sewerage, building consents, and other local matters. The territorial authorities are sixteen city councils, fifty-seven district councils, and the Chatham Islands County Council. Four of the territorial councils (one city and three districts) and the Chatham Islands County Council also perform the functions of a regional council and thus are known as unitary authorities. Territorial authority districts are not subdivisions of regional council districts, and a few of them straddle regional council boundaries.

The regions are (asterisks denote unitary authorities): Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne*, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui, Wellington, Marlborough*, Nelson*, Tasman*, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Chatham Islands*.

As a major South Pacific nation, New Zealand has a close working relationship with many Pacific Island nations, and continues a political association with the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau. New Zealand operates Scott Base in its Antarctic territory, the Ross Dependency. Other countries also use Christchurch to support their Antarctic bases and the city is sometimes known as the "Gateway to Antarctica".


Geography

A satellite image of New Zealand. Lake Taupo and Mount Ruapehu are visible in the centre of the North Island. The Southern Alps and the rain shadow they create are clearly visible in the South Island.Main article: Geography of New Zealand
New Zealand comprises two main islands (called the North and South Islands in English, Te-Ika-a-Maui and Te Wai Pounamu in Maori) and a number of smaller islands, located near the center of the water hemisphere. The total land area, 268,680 square kilometres (103,738 sq mi), is a little less than that of Italy and Japan, and a little more than the United Kingdom. The country extends more than 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) along its main, north-north-east axis, with approximately 15,134 km of coastline. The most significant of the smaller inhabited islands include Stewart Island/Rakiura; Waiheke Island, in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf; Great Barrier Island, east of the Hauraki Gulf; and the Chatham Islands, named Rekohu by Moriori. The country has extensive marine resources, with the seventh-largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering over four million square kilometres (1.5 million sq mi), more than 15 times its land area.

The South Island is the largest land mass, and is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres (12,316 ft). There are eighteen peaks over 3000 metres (9800 ft) 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 m / 9176 ft), is an active cone volcano. The dramatic and varied landscape of New Zealand has made it a popular location for the production of television programmes and films, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Last Samurai.

Aoraki/Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand.The climate throughout the country is mild, mostly cool temperate to warm temperate, with temperatures rarely falling below 0°C (32°F) or rising above 30°C (86°F). Conditions vary from wet and cold on the West Coast of the South Island to dry and continental in the Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury and almost subtropical in Northland. Of the main cities, Christchurch is the driest, receiving only some 640 mm (25 in) of rain per year. Auckland, the wettest, receives almost twice that amount.

New Zealand is part of Zealandia, a continent that is 93% submerged. Zealandia is almost half the size of Australia and is unusually long and narrow. About 25 million years ago, a shift in plate tectonic movements began to pull Zealandia apart forcefully. The submerged parts of Zealandia are the Lord Howe Rise, Challenger Plateau, Campbell Plateau, Norfolk Ridge and the Chatham Rise.

Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a hill in the Hawke's Bay region of the North Island, is credited by The Guinness Book of World Records with having the longest place name in the world.


Flora and fauna
New Zealand animals, New Zealand plants, Biodiversity of New Zealand, and List of extinct New Zealand animals

Crowns of two kauri treesBecause of its long isolation from the rest of the world and its island biogeography, New Zealand has extraordinary flora and fauna. About 80% of the New Zealand flora occurs only in New Zealand, including more than 40 endemic genera.[4] The two main types of forest are those dominated by podocarps including the giant kauri, and in cooler climates the southern beech. The remaining vegetation types in New Zealand are grasslands of tussock and other grasses, usually in sub-alpine areas, and the low shrublands between grasslands and forests.

Until the arrival of humans, 80% of the land was forested. Until 2006, it was thought, barring three species of bat (one now extinct), there were no non-marine native mammals. However, in 2006, scientists discovered bones that belonged to a long-extinct, unique, mouse-sized land animal in the Otago region of the South Island.[5] New Zealand's forests were inhabited by a diverse range of birds including the flightless moa (now extinct), and the kiwi, kakapo, and takahe, all endangered by human actions. Unique birds capable of flight include the Haast's eagle, which was the world's largest bird of prey (now extinct), and the large kaka and kea parrots. Reptiles present in New Zealand include skinks, geckos and tuatara. There are four endemic species of primitive frogs. There are no snakes and there is only one venomous spider, the katipo, which is rare and restricted to coastal regions. However, there are many endemic species of insects, including the weta, one species of which may grow as large as a house mouse and is the heaviest insect in the world.

New Zealand has led the world in clearing offshore islands of introduced mammalian pests and reintroducing rare native species to ensure their survival. A more recent development is the mainland ecological island.

Economy

Auckland, the economic capital of the country, with the Sky Tower in the background.Main article: Economy of New Zealand
New Zealand has a modern, prosperous, developed economy with an estimated GDP of $101.685 billion (2005).

The country has a high standard of living with GDP per capita estimated at $26,400 (comparative figures are Australia $31,900 and United States $41,800). The standard of living has also been measured in other forms, including being ranked 20th on the 2006 Human Development Index and 15th in The Economist's 2005 world-wide quality-of-life index.

The tertiary sector is the largest sector in the economy and constitutes 67.6% of GDP, followed by the secondary sector on 27.8% and the primary sector on 4.7% (2005 estimate).

New Zealand is a country heavily dependent on trade, particularly in agricultural products, as almost 20% of the country's output is exported[citation needed] (by comparison it is 21% for the United Kingdom, 49% for Finland and 83% for Belgium).[citation needed] This leaves New Zealand particularly vulnerable to slumps in commodity prices and global economic slowdowns. Its principal export industries are agriculture, horticulture, fishing and forestry making up about half of the country's exports. Its major export partners are Australia 22.4%, US 11.3%, Japan 11.2%, China 9.7%, Germany 5.2% (2004)[citation needed]. This is a dramatic change from 1965, when the United Kingdom received over half of New Zealand’s exports.

Traditionally, New Zealand enjoyed a high standard of living with stable commodity exports, based not least on a strong relationship with the United Kingdom. In 1973, the United Kingdom joined the European Community and began to adhere to its trade policy and at the same time other factors such as the oil crises undermined the viability of the New Zealand economy. This lead to a protracted and very severe economic crisis, during which living standards in New Zealand fell behind those of Australia and Western Europe.

Since 1984, successive governments have engaged in major macroeconomic restructuring, transforming New Zealand from a highly protectionist and regulated economy to a liberalised free-trade economy. Pursuant to this policy, during the late 1980s and early 1990s the New Zealand Government sold a number of former government-owned enterprises including its telecommunications company, railway network, a number of radio stations, and two financial institutions. However, the government continues to own a number of significant businesses, collectively known as State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). These SOEs are operated through arms-length shareholding arrangements and are required to operate profitably, just like privately-owned enterprises.

The current government's economic objectives are centred on pursuing free-trade agreements and building a "knowledge economy". In 2004, the government began discussing a free trade agreement with the People's Republic of China, one of the first countries to do so.

In recent years, New Zealand has been perceived as a vigorous economy and attracted international attention. After the economic restructuring of the 1980s, the New Zealand economy sank into a recession starting with the sharemarket crash in October 1987. The recession deepened in the early 1990s when unemployment topped 10%. However in 1993 the economy rebounded smartly and apart from a smaller recession in the late 1990s, New Zealand enjoyed a substantial economic boom up until 2005. New Zealand’s unemployment rate is now the second lowest of the twenty-seven OECD nations with comparable data.

Ongoing economic challenges for New Zealand include a current account deficit of 9% of GDP, a net export of educated youth, slow development of non-commodity exports and tepid growth of labour productivity.


Demographics
Demographics of New Zealand
New Zealand has a population of about 4.1 million, of which approximately 80% are of European descent.[6] New Zealanders of European descent are collectively known as Pakeha; this term is used variously and some Maori use it to refer to all non-Maori New Zealanders. Most European New Zealanders are of British and Irish ancestry with smaller percentages of Dutch, South Slav, and/or Italian ancestry.

Indigenous Maori people are the largest non-European ethnic group (the percentage of the population of full or part-Maori ancestry is 14.7%; those who checked Maori only are 7.9%). Between the 1996 and 2001 census, the number of people of Asian origin (6.6%) overtook the number of people of Pacific Island origin (6.5%) (note that the census allowed multiple ethnic affiliations). New Zealand has relatively open immigration policies; its government is committed to increasing its population by about 1% annually. Twenty percent of the population was born overseas, one of the highest anywhere in the world. At present, immigrants from the United Kingdom constitute the largest single group (30%) but immigrants are drawn from many nations, and increasingly from East Asia (Chinese, Japanese and Korean are the most numerous of this group, but includes Southeast Asian and Indian peoples).

According to the 2001 census, Christianity is the predominant religion (60% identification). Around 30% identified that they were 'non-religious', and 6% objected to answering, leaving only 4% for other religions. The main Christian denominations are Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Presbyterianism and Methodism. There are also significant numbers who identify themselves with Pentecostal and Baptist churches and with the LDS (Mormon) church. The New Zealand-based Ratana church has many adherents among Maori. According to census figures, other significant minority religions include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Religion does not play a major role in New Zealand public life. Overtly Christian-based political parties such as Christian Heritage and Destiny have been unsuccessful, and the religion (or lack of religion) of political leaders - while generally known - is considered by most to be a private matter. Although faith-based lobby groups exist, political parties are more likely to be harmed than helped by their support.


Culture
Main article: Culture of New Zealand

Influences

Twilight bagpipe band practice, Napier.Contemporary New Zealand has a diverse culture with influences from English, Scottish, Irish, and Maori cultures, along with those of other European cultures and – more recently – Polynesian cultures other than that of the Maori (including Samoan, Tongan, Tokelaun Niuean, Cook Islands Maori, Tahitian, and Hawaiian); also southern Asian (Indian), Southeast Asian (Filipino, Malaysian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese), and east Asian (Chinese, Korean, and Japanese) cultures. Large festivals in celebration of Diwali and Chinese New Year are held in Auckland, as is the world's largest Polynesian festival, Pasifika. Although primary migration was from England there were also many people from Scotland amongst the early British settlers and elements of their culture persist; New Zealand is said to have more pipebands than Scotland. Cultural links between New Zealand and the United Kingdom are maintained by a common language, sustained migration from the United Kingdom and the fact that many young New Zealanders spend time in the United Kingdom on their "overseas experience" (OE).


Late twentieth-century house-post depicting the navigator Kupe fighting two sea creatures.


Maori culture and language
Maori culture and Te Reo Maori

Maori culture has undergone considerable change since the arrival of Europeans; for example Christianity has been widely adopted, and most Maori now live similar lifestyles to their Pakeha neighbours. However many traditional aspects of Maori culture are alive and well. Marae continue to play an important role, and the Maori arts of kapa haka (song and dance), carving and weaving are practiced. Some traditional cultural forms have changed since colonisation, for example carving is commonly done with metal tools rather than the pounamu (jade) adzes used in pre-European times. On special occasions food is still cooked in traditional hangi (earth ovens), and will typically include both pre-European foods such as kumara (sweet potato) and foods introduced by Europeans such as pork and potatoes. Like all living cultures, Maori culture is not static but changes and adapts.

Use of the Maori language (Te Reo Maori) as a living, community language remained only in a few remote areas in the post-war years, but is currently undergoing a renaissance, thanks in part to Maori language immersion schools and a Maori Television channel set up after recommendations were made by the Waitangi Tribunal. Maori Television is the only nationwide television channel to have the majority of its prime-time content delivered in Maori (sometimes with sub-titles in English). Maori Television is also the only television channel that tries to generate new content in Maori and subtitles English programmes in Maori. None of the other television channels present a substantial number of Maori programmes, or subtitle English language programmes in Maori, despite the fact that it is an official language equal to English.


Film
Main article: Cinema of New Zealand
Although films have been made in New Zealand since the 1920s, it was only from the 1970s that they began to be produced in significant numbers. Films such as Sleeping Dogs and Goodbye Pork Pie achieved local success and lauched the careers of actors and directors including Sam Neill, Geoff Murphy and Roger Donaldson. In the early 1990s, New Zealand film began to attract international acclaim, for example Jane Campion's Academy Award-winning film The Piano, Lee Tamahori's Once Were Warriors and Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Jackson filmed The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in New Zealand, using a mostly New Zealand crew and many New Zealand actors in minor parts. Many non-New Zealand productions, primarily from Hollywood but also Bollywood (India), have been made in New Zealand. Film industry insiders are divided on whether this benefits or harms the New Zealand film industry; however some New Zealand actors, such as Lucy Lawless (Xena) have benefitted from these overseas productions.


Music
Music of New Zealand
New Zealand musicians have adopted the same genres as exist in other Western countries, and some, including the Finn Brothers, Scribe, and The Datsuns, have had some international success. There is a thriving hip-hop culture which includes pioneering Samoan language rappers such as King Kapisi and Tha Feelstyle. A number of artists have released songs and albums in Te Reo Maori, and one of these songs, Poi E was a no. 1 hit in the 1980s.


Sports
Sport in New Zealand
Sport has a major role in New Zealand's culture; this is particularly the case with rugby union. Other popular sports including, cricket, netball, lawn bowling, soccer (perhaps surprisingly, the most popular football code in terms of participation in New Zealand) and rugby league. Also popular are golf, tennis, cycling, field hockey, softball (current Men's International Softball Federation World Champions, 1996, 2000, 2004) and a variety of water sports, particularly surfing, sailing, whitewater kayaking, surf lifesaving skills and rowing. In the latter, New Zealand enjoyed an extraordinary magic 45 minutes when winning four successive gold medals at the 2005 world championships. Snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding are also popular. Equestrian sportsmen and sportswomen make their mark in the world, with Mark Todd being chosen international "Horseman of the Century", and many juniors at pony club level.


Olympic Games
The country is internationally recognised for performing well on a medals-to-population ratio at Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games. See, for example, New Zealand Olympic medallists and New Zealand at the 2004 Summer Olympics.


Rugby union
Main article: Rugby union in New Zealand
Rugby union is closely linked to New Zealand's national identity. The national rugby team, the All Blacks, has the best winning record of any national team. They hosted and won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, and will host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The haka, a traditional Maori challenge, is traditionally performed by the All Blacks before the start of international matches. See Haka of the All Blacks.


Mountaineering
Mountaineering is popular in New Zealand thanks in part to the country's rugged terrain; Aoraki/Mount Cook in the South Island is a popular peak for both New Zealand and international climbers. New Zealand's most famous mountaineer is Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first person to reach the top of Mount Everest. The sport's many New Zealand devotees include current Prime Minister Helen Clark.


Yachting and the America's Cup
New Zealand is one of the leading nations in world yachting, especially open-water long-distance or round-the-world races. Round-the-world yachtsman Sir Peter Blake was a national hero. In inshore yachting, Auckland hosted the last two America's Cup regattas (2000 and 2003). In 2000, Team New Zealand successfully defended the trophy they had won in 1995 in San Diego, which made them the only team outside the United States to successfully defend a challenge, but in 2003 they lost to a team headed by Ernesto Bertarelli of Switzerland, whose Alinghi syndicate was skippered by Russell Coutts, the former skipper of Team New Zealand.

Team New Zealand will compete for the America's Cup at the next regatta, in Valencia in 2007. The team manager is Grant Dalton.


Public holidays
Main article: Holidays in New Zealand
There are two types of public holidays in New Zealand:

Statutory Holidays, which are legislated by law;
Provincial Anniversary Days, which commemorate the founding of the province or an early settlement event.
Under current legislation, workers who work on a public holiday must be given equivalent time off on another day, and be paid time-and-a-half.


International rankings

Political and economic rankings

New Zealand is one of the least corrupt countries, according to Transparency International.Political freedom ratings - Free; political rights and civil liberties both rated 1 (the highest score available)
Press freedom - 19th freest, at 5.00
GDP per capita - 27th highest, at I$24,769
Human Development Index - 20th highest, at 0.933
Income Equality - 54th most equal, at 36.2 (Gini Index)
Literacy Rate - Equal first, at 99.9%
Unemployment rate - 22nd lowest, at 3.40%
Corruption - 1st equal least corrupt, at 9.6 on index
Economic Freedom - 9th equal freest, at 1.84 on index

Health rankings
Fertility rate- 140th most fertile, at 1.79 per woman
Birth rate - 140th most births, at 13.90 per 1000 people
Infant mortality - 192nd most deaths, at 5.85 per 1000 live births
Death rate - 115th highest death rate, at 7.52 per 1000 people
Life Expectancy - 22nd highest, at 78.81 years
Suicide Rate - 35th highest suicide rate, at 19.8 for males and 4.2 for females
HIV/AIDS rate - 149th most cases, at 0.10% (Credit: Wikipedia)

Websites

New Zealand Government Portal

Profiles

Australia

Asia Pacific

Media Entities

Derryn Hinch

Russell Crowe

New Zealand performing artists

Tama Waipara

Kate Ceberano

New Zealand Sports

The All Blacks

Kali Meehan

Profiles

Tasmania

Islands

World Directory

Press Releases 2008

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