New Zealand

New Zealand

"God Defend New Zealand"
"God Save the Queen"1
The hemisphere centred on New Zealand
Capital Wellington
41°17′S 174°27′E / °S 174.45°E / -41.283; 174.45
Largest city Auckland2
Official language(s) English (98%)3
Māori (4.2%)3
NZ Sign Language (0.6%)3
Ethnic groups  78% European/Other4
14.6% Māori4
9.2% Asian4
6.9% Pacific peoples4
Demonym New Zealander,
Kiwi (colloquial)
Government Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch HM Queen Elizabeth II
 -  Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand
 -  Prime Minister John Key
 -  Speaker Dr Lockwood Smith
 -  Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias
Independence from the United Kingdom 
 -  1st Parliament 25 May 18545 
 -  Dominion 26 September 19075 
 -  Statute of Westminster 11 December 1931 (adopted 25 November 1947) 
 -  Constitution Act 1986 13 December 1986 
 -  Total 268,021 km2 (74th)
103,483 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 2.1
 -  June 2010 estimate 4,367,700[1] (123rd)
 -  2006 census 4,027,9476 
 -  Density 16.1/km2 (201st)
41.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $115.412 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $28,722[2] 
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $135.723 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $31,067[2] 
Gini (1997) 36.2 (medium
HDI (2010) 0.907[3] (very high) (3rd)
Currency New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Time zone NZST7 (UTC+12)
 -  Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
(Sep to Apr)
Date formats dd/mm/yyyy
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .nz8
Calling code +64
1 "God Save the Queen" is officially a national anthem but is generally used only on regal and vice-regal occasions.[4][5]
2 Auckland is the largest urban area; Auckland City is the largest incorporated city.
3 Percentages add to more than 100% because some people speak more than one language. They exclude unusable responses and those who spoke no language (e.g. too young to talk).[6]
4 Percentages add to more than 100% because some people identify with more than one ethnic group.[7]
5 There is a multitude of dates that could be considered to mark independence (see Independence of New Zealand).
6 Number of people who usually live in New Zealand.[8]
7 The Chatham Islands have a separate time zone, 45 minutes ahead of the rest of New Zealand.
8 The territories of Niue, the Cook Islands and Tokelau have their own cctlds, .nu, .ck and .tk respectively.

New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous Māori language name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, commonly translated as land of the long white cloud. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica).

New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation; it is situated about southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. During its long isolation New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, a number of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and the mammals they introduced.

The majority of New Zealand's population is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority. Asians and non-Māori Polynesians are also significant minority groups, especially in urban areas. The most commonly spoken language is English.

New Zealand is a developed country that ranks highly in international comparisons on many topics, including lack of corruption, high educational attainment and economic freedom. Its cities also consistently rank among the world's most liveable.

Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the country's head of state and is represented by a Governor-General, and executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet of New Zealand.


It is unknown whether the Māori had a name for New Zealand as a whole before the arrival of Europeans, although they referred to the North Island as Te Ika a Māui (the fish of Māui) and the South Island as Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of greenstone) or Te Waka o Aoraki (the canoe of Aoraki).[9] Until the early 20th century, the North Island was also referred to as Aotearoa (colloquially translated "land of the long white cloud");[10] in modern Māori usage, this name refers to the whole country. Aotearoa is also commonly used in this sense in New Zealand English, where it can be used alone or combined with the English name, for example "Aotearoa New Zealand".

The first European name for New Zealand was Staten Landt, the name given to it by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who in 1642 became the first European to see the islands. Tasman assumed it was part of a southern continent connected with land discovered in 1615 off the southern tip of South America by Jacob Le Maire, which had been named Staten Landt, meaning "Land of the (Dutch) States-General".[11][12]

The name New Zealand originated with Dutch cartographers, who called the islands Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland, which is spelt "Zealand" in English and Zeelandic.[12] It is uncertain exactly who first coined the term, but it first appeared in 1645 and may have been the choice of cartographer Johan Blaeu.[13] British explorer James Cook subsequently anglicised the name to New Zealand. The linguistic connection with the Danish island Zealand is purely coincidental.

In 1840 New Zealand's first Governor William Hobson named the three main islands New Ulster (North Island), New Munster (South Island) and New Leinster (Stewart Island).[14] Early maps labelled the islands North, Middle and South, with the current South Island then known as the Middle Island and Stewart Island as the South Island.[15] Early Europeans simply used the names North and South to distinguish between the two largest islands. In 2009 the New Zealand Geographic Board discovered that these names had not been made official.[16] The board is seeking to legalise the North Island and South Island names and is also looking for alternative Māori names.[14] Although the islands have traditionally had several Māori names, Maori Language Commissioner Erima Henare sees Te Ika-a-Māui and Te Wai Pounamu respectively as the most likely choices.[17]


Polynesian settlers

New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major landmasses. The first known settlers were Eastern Polynesians who, according to most researchers, arrived by canoe in about AD 1250–1300.[18] Some researchers have suggested an earlier wave of arrivals dating to as early as AD 50–150; these people then either died out or left the islands.[9][19][20] Over the following centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into iwi (tribes) and 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 Moriori culture.[21][22]