(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||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.|
|History||New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major land masses. The first settlers of New Zealand were Eastern Polynesians who came to New Zealand, probably in a series of migrations, sometime between around AD 800 and 1300. Over the next few centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into Iwi (tribes) and hapū (subtribes) which would co-operate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Māori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their own distinct Moriori culture.
The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642. Several of the crew were killed by Māori and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook’s voyage of 1768–71. Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost all of the coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Māori timber, food, artefacts and water. On occasion, Europeans traded goods for sex. Māori 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 nineteenth century, Christian missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Māori population, who had become disillusioned with their indigenous faith by the introduction of Western culture.
Becoming aware of the lawless nature of European settlement and increasing interest in the territory by the French, the British government sent William Hobson to New Zealand to claim sovereignty and negotiate a treaty with Māori.[i] The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in the Bay of Islands on 6 February 1840. The drafting was done hastily and confusion and disagreement continues to surround the translation. The Treaty is regarded as New Zealand’s foundation as a nation and is revered by Māori as a guarantee of their rights. Hobson initially selected Okiato as the capital in 1840, before moving the seat of government to Auckland in 1841.
Under British rule, the islands of New Zealand had been part of the colony of New South Wales. In 1840 New Zealand became its own dominion, which signalled increasing numbers of European settlers particularly from the British Isles. At first, Māori were eager to trade with the ‘Pakeha’, as they called them, and many iwi (tribes) became wealthy. As settler numbers increased, conflicts over land led to the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s and 1870s, resulting in the loss of much Māori land. The detail of European settlement and the acquisition of land from Māori remain controversial.
Representative government for the colony was provided for by the passing of the 1852 New Zealand Constitution Act by the United Kingdom. The 1st New Zealand Parliament met for the first time in 1854. In 1856 the colony became effectively self-governing with the grant of responsible government over all domestic matters other than native policy. Power in this respect would be transferred to the colonial administration in the 1860s. In 1863 Premier Alfred Domett moved a resolution that the capital transfer to a locality in Cook Strait, apparently due to concern the South Island could form a separate colony. Commissioners from Australia (chosen for their neutral status) advised Wellington as suitable because of its harbour and central location, and parliament officially sat there for the first time in 1865. In 1893, the country became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. In 1907, New Zealand became an independent Dominion and a fully independent nation in 1947 when the Statute of Westminster (1931) was ratified, 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.
New Zealand was an enthusiastic member of the British Empire, fighting in the Boer War, World War I and World War II 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.
New Zealand experienced increasing prosperity following World War II. However, some social problems were developing; Māori had begun to move to the cities in search of work and excitement rather than the traditional rural way of life. A Māori protest movement would eventually form, criticising Eurocentrism and seeking more recognition of Māori culture and the Treaty of Waitangi, which they felt had not been fully honoured. In 1975 a Waitangi Tribunal was set up to investigate alleged breaches of the Treaty and in 1985 it was enabled to investigate historic grievances. In common with all other developed countries, social developments accelerated in the 1970s and social and political mores changed. By the 1970s, the traditional trade with Britain was threatened because of Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community. Great economic and social changes took place in the 1980s under the 4th Labour government largely led by Finance Minister Roger Douglas, and commonly referred to as “Rogernomics.”
|Geography||Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia
Geographic coordinates: 41 00 S, 174 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 268,680 sq km
land: 268,021 sq km
note: includes Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands
Area – comparative: about the size of Colorado
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 15,134 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: temperate with sharp regional contrasts
Terrain: predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Aoraki-Mount Cook 3,754 m
Natural resources: natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone
Land use: arable land: 5.54%
permanent crops: 6.92%
other: 87.54% (2005)
Irrigated land: 2,850 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 397 cu km (1995)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.11 cu km/yr (48%/9%/42%)
per capita: 524 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity
Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; native flora and fauna hard-hit by invasive species
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Antarctic Seals, Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: about 80% of the population lives in cities; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world
New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Although it has no codified constitution, the Constitution Act 1986 is the principal formal statement of New Zealand’s constitutional structure. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and is titled Queen of New Zealand under the Royal Titles Act 1974. She is represented by the Governor-General, who she appoints on the exclusive advice of the Prime Minister. The current Governor-General is Anand Satyanand.
The Governor-General exercises the Crown’s prerogative powers, such as the power to appoint and dismiss ministers and to dissolve Parliament, and in rare situations, the reserve powers. 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, the leader of the Labour Party.
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 Māori 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.
Since 17 October 2005, Labour has been in formal coalition with 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. Since early 2007, Labour has also had the proxy vote of Taito Phillip Field, a former Labour MP. These arrangements assure the government of a majority of seven MPs on confidence votes.
The Leader of the Opposition is National Party leader John Key. The ACT party and the Māori Party are also in opposition. The Greens, New Zealand First and United Future each vote against the government on some legislation.
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 also abolished the option to appeal to the Privy Council in London. The current Chief Justice is Dame Sian Elias. New Zealand’s judiciary also includes the Court of Appeal; the High Court, which deals with serious criminal offences and civil matters at the trial level and with appeals from lower courts and tribunals; and subordinate courts.
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 (also of note New Zealand’s largest listed company: Telecom New Zealand had a woman – Theresa Gattung as its CEO at the time).
|People||Population: 4,173,460 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.9% (male 446,883/female 424,240)
15-64 years: 66.5% (male 1,390,669/female 1,385,686)
65 years and over: 12.6% (male 238,560/female 287,422) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 36.3 years
male: 35.6 years
female: 37.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.971% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.09 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.99 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.62 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.33 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.24 years
male: 78.33 years
female: 82.25 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.11 children born/woman (2008 est.)