History of New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses that of the North Island, or Te Ika-a-Māui, and the South Island, or Te Waipounamu and numerous smaller islands.
New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometres (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long isolation, New Zealand developed a distinctive biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.
Reflecting this, New Zealand's culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration. The official languages are English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language, with English predominant. The country's economy was historically dominated by the export of wool, but exports of dairy products, meat, and wine, along with tourism, are more significant today.
Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, who is currently John Key. Queen Elizabeth II is the country's head of state and is represented by a Governor-General. In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes. The Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing states in free association with New Zealand); and the Ross Dependency, which is New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica. New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pacific Islands Forum and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Geography of New Zealand
|New Zealand Map - Click for larger view|
The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about A.D. 800. In 1840, their chieftains entered into a compact with Britain, the Treaty of Waitangi, in which they ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria while retaining territorial rights. In that same year, the British began the first organized colonial settlement. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the defeat of the native peoples. The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the UK militarily in both World Wars. New Zealand's full participation in a number of defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.
The geography of New Zealand encompasses two main islands (the North and South Islands, Te-Ika-a-Maui and Te Wai Pounamu in Maori) and a number of smaller islands, located near the centre of the water hemisphere. New Zealand varies in climate, from cold and wet to dry and to subtropical in some areas and most of the landscape is mountainous. The dramatic and varied landscape of New Zealand has made it a popular location for the production of television programmes and films, including the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
New Zealand is in Oceania, in the South Pacific Ocean at 41°S 174°E. It has an area of 267,710 square kilometres (103,738 sq. mi) (including Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Islands, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands), making it slightly smaller than Italy and Japan and a little larger than the United Kingdom. These islands are the main areas of land that emerged from the largely submerged continent of Zealandia which came into existence about 83 million years ago before sinking about 20 million years ago.
New Zealand has 15,134 km (9,398 mi) of coastline and extensive marine resources. The country claims the fifth-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. It has no land borders. The South Island is the largest land mass and contains about one quarter of the population. The island 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 18 peaks of more than 3000 metres (9800 ft) in the South Island. The east side of the island has the Canterbury Plains while the West Coast is famous for its rough coastlines, very high proportion of native bush, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.
People & Culture
The culture of New Zealand is largely inherited from British and European custom, interwoven with Maori and Polynesian tradition. An isolated Pacific Island nation, New Zealand was comparatively recently settled by humans. Initially Māori only, then bicultural with colonial and rural values, now New Zealand has a cosmopolitan, multicultural culture that reflects its changing demographics, is conscious of the natural environment, and is an educated, developed Western society.
Maori culture has predominated for most of New Zealand's history of human habitation. Polynesians reached the islands of New Zealand about 1280. Over the ensuing centuries of Polynesian expansion and settlement, Maori culture developed from its Polynesian roots. Maori established separate tribes, built fortified villages (Pa), hunted and fished, traded commodities, developed agriculture, arts and weaponry, and kept a detailed oral history. Regular European contact began from 1800, and British immigration proceeded rapidly, especially from 1855.
The colonists had a dramatic effect on the Maori, bringing Christianity,advanced technology, the English language, numeracy and literacy. In 1840 Maori leaders signed the Treaty of Waitangi, intended to enable the tribes to live peacefully with the colonists. However after several incidents, the New Zealand land wars broke out from 1845, with Maori suffering a loss of land, partly through confiscation,but mainly through widespread and extensive land sales. Maori retained their identity, mostly choosing to live separately from settlers and continuing to speak and write Maori. With mass migration from Britain, a high Maori death rate and low life expectancy for Maori women, Maori population figure dropped between 1850 and 1930.Work by demographer I. Poole shows the drop may not have been as great as previously believed as most Maori did not register birth until a child benefit was paid by the 1931 Labour Government. From about 1860 Maori became the minority race in New Zealand. Maori culture has regained much of its lost influence as Maori have integrated into New Zealand society.
As part of the resurgence of Maori culture, the traditional crafts of carving and weaving are now more widely practised and Maori artists are increasing in number and influence. Most Maori 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 Maori architecture consisted of carved meeting houses (wharenui) decorated with symbolic carvings and illustrations. These buildings were originally designed to be constantly rebuilt, changing and adapting to different whims or needs.
Maori 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. Maori 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 as factual portrayals of New Zealand. Portraits of Maori were also common, with early painters often portraying them as "noble savages", exotic beauties or friendly natives. The country's isolation delayed the influence of European artistic trends allowing local artists to developed their own distinctive style of regionalism. During the 1960s and 70s many artists combined traditional Maori 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" exhibition in New York in 2004.
Maori cloaks are made of fine flax fibre and patterned with black, red and white triangles, diamonds and other geometric shapes. Greenstone was fashioned into earrings and necklaces, with the most well-known design being the hei-tiki, 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 occasions. Standards have since relaxed and New Zealand fashion has received a reputation for being casual, practical and lacklustre. However, the local fashion industry has grown significantly since 2000, doubling exports and increasing from a handful to about 50 established labels, with some labels gaining international recognition
Media and Entertainment
New Zealand music has been influenced by blues, jazz, country, rock and roll and hip hop, with many of these genres given a unique New Zealand interpretation. Maori developed traditional chants and songs from their ancient South-East Asian origins, and after centuries of isolation created a unique "monotonous" and "doleful" sound. Flutes and trumpets were used as musical instruments or as signalling devices during war or special occasions. Early settlers brought over their ethnic music, with brass bands and choral music being popular, and musicians began touring New Zealand in the 1860s. Pipe bands became widespread during the early 20th century. 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 Maori language songs and the Maori tradition-based art of kapa haka (song and dance) has made a resurgence. The New Zealand Music Awards are held annually by Recorded Music NZ; the awards were first held in 1965 by Reckitt & Colman as the Loxene Golden Disc awards. Recorded Music NZ also publishes the country's official weekly record charts
Radio first arrived in New Zealand in 1922 and television in 1960. The number of New Zealand films significantly increased during the 1970s. In 1978 the New Zealand Film Commission started assisting local film-makers and many films attained a world audience, some receiving international acknowledgement. The highest grossing New Zealand movies include: Boy, The World's Fastest Indian, Once Were Warriors, and Whale Rider. Deregulation in the 1980s saw a sudden increase in the numbers of radio and television stations. New Zealand television primarily broadcasts 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, have encouraged some producers to film big budget movies in New Zealand. The 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. As of 2011, New Zealand was ranked 13th worldwide in press freedom by Freedom House, with the 2nd freest media in the Asia-Pacific region after Palau.
Most of the major sporting codes played in New Zealand have British origins. Rugby union is considered the national sport and attracts the most spectators. Golf, netball, tennis and cricket have the highest rates of adult participation, while football (soccer) is top among young people. Victorious rugby tours to Australia and the United Kingdom in the late 1880s and the early 1900s played an early role in instilling a national identity. Horseracing was also a popular spectator sport and became part of the "Rugby, Racing and Beer" culture during the 1960s. Maori participation in European sports was particularly evident in rugby and the country's team performs a haka, a traditional Maori challenge, before international matches
New Zealand has competitive international teams in rugby union, netball, cricket, rugby league, and softball and has traditionally done well in triathlons, rowing, yachting and cycling. New Zealand participated at the Summer Olympics in 1908 and 1912 as a joint team with Australia, before first participating on its own in 1920. The country has ranked highly on a medals-to-population ratio at recent Games. The All Blacks, the national men's rugby union team, are the most successful in the history of international rugby and the reigning World Cup champions. New Zealand is known for its extreme sports, adventure tourism and strong mountaineering tradition. Other outdoor pursuits such as cycling, fishing, swimming, running, tramping, canoeing, hunting, snowsports and surfing are also popular. The Polynesian sport of waka ama racing has increased in popularity and is now an international sport involving teams from all over the Pacific
Weather and Climate
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The climate is mostly cool temperate to warm temperate. Mean temperatures range from 8 °C (46 °F) in the South Island to 16 °C (61 °F) in the North Island. January and February are the warmest months, July the coldest. New Zealand does not have a large temperature range, apart from central Otago, but the weather can change rapidly and unexpectedly. Subtropical conditions are experienced in Northland. Peak summer temperatures are in the range 24-28 degrees Celsius, although inland Central Otago often experiences 30-34 degrees. Winds are predominantly from the west and south-west in winter, when the climate is dominated by regular depressions. In summer winds are more variable with a northerly predominance associated with the regular large anticyclones which cover all the country.
Most settled, lowland areas of the country have between 600 and 1600 mm of rainfall, with the most rain along the west coast of the South Island and the least on the east coast of the South Island and interior basins, predominantly on the Canterbury Plains and the Central Otago Basin (about 350 mm PA). Christchurch is the driest city, receiving about 640 mm (25 in) of rain per year, while Hamilton is the wettest, receiving more than twice that amount at 1325 mm PA, followed closely by Auckland. The wettest area by far is the rugged Fiordland region, in the south-west of the South Island, which has between 5000 and 8000 mm of rain per year, with up to 15,000 mm in isolated valleys, amongst the highest recorded rainfalls in the world.
The UV index can be very high and extreme in the hottest times of the year in the north of the North Island. This is partly due to the country's relatively little air pollution compared to many other countries and the high sunshine hours. New Zealand has very high sunshine hours with most areas receiving over 2000 hours per year. The sunniest areas are Nelson/Marlborough and the Bay of Plenty with 2400 hours per year. Westland is the region with the lowest hours at 1600, which is the same as the sunniest area (Scilly Isles) in Britain.
New Zealand Public Holidays
|New Year’s Day||January 01|
|Waitangi Day||February 06|
|Good Friday||April 03|
|Easter Monday||April 06|
|ANZAC Day||April 25|
|Queen's Birthday||June 06|
|Labour Day||October 26|
|Christmas Day||December 25|
|Boxing Day||December 26|
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for New Zealand, exercise normal security precautions.