New Zealand

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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 defence alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.


Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia

Geographic coordinates:

41 00 S, 174 00 E


total: 268,680 sq km
note: includes Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands
water: NA sq km
land: NA sq km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


temperate with sharp regional contrasts


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: 5.6%
permanent crops: 6.99%
other: 87.41% (2001)

Irrigated land:

2,850 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; native flora and fauna hard-hit by species introduced from outside

Geography - note:

about 80% of the population lives in cities; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world


3,993,817 (July 2004 est.)

Ethnic groups:

New Zealand European 74.5%, Maori 9.7%, other European 4.6%, Pacific Islander 3.8%, Asian and others 7.4%


Anglican 24%, Presbyterian 18%, Roman Catholic 15%, Methodist 5%, Baptist 2%, other Protestant 3%, unspecified or none 33% (1986)


English (official), Maori (official)

Government type:

parliamentary democracy



Administrative divisions:

13 regions; Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Gisborne-Hawke's Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui, Nelson-Marlborough, Northland, Otago, Southland, Taranaki, Waikato, Wellington, West Coast

Dependent areas:

Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau


26 September 1907 (from UK)

National holiday:

Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840)


consists of a series of legal documents, including certain acts of the UK and New Zealand Parliaments and The Constitution Act 1986 which is the principal formal charter

Legal system:

based on English law, with special land legislation and land courts for the Maori; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Economy - overview:

Over the past 20 years the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access to a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes (but left behind many at the bottom of the ladder), broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector, and contained inflationary pressures. Per capita income has been rising and is now 80% of the level of the four largest EU economies. New Zealand is heavily dependent on trade - particularly in agricultural products - to drive growth, and it has been affected by the global economic slowdown and the slump in commodity prices. Thus far the economy has been resilient, and growth should continue at the same level in 2004. Expenditures on health, education, and pensions will increase proportionately.

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1.8% (2003 est.)

Labor force:

2.008 million (2003 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 10%, industry 25%, services 65% (1995)

Unemployment rate:

4.7% (2003 est.)

Agriculture - products:

wheat, barley, potatoes, pulses, fruits, vegetables; wool, beef, dairy products; fish


food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transportation equipment, banking and insurance, tourism, mining

Exports - commodities:

dairy products, meat, wood and wood products, fish, machinery

Exports - partners:

Australia 21.8%, US 14.6%, Japan 11%, China 4.9%, UK 4.8% (2003 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, vehicles and aircraft, petroleum, electronics, textiles, plastics

Imports - partners:

Australia 22.2%, US 11.8%, Japan 11.8%, China 9%, Germany 5.3% (2003 est.)


New Zealand dollar (NZD)

Telephones - main lines in use:

1.765 million (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2.599 million (2003)


total: 3,898 km
narrow gauge: 3,898 km 1.067-m gauge (506 km electrified) (2003)


total: 92,053 km
paved: 57,809 km (including at least 190 km of expressways)
unpaved: 34,244 km (2000)

Ports and harbors:

Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga, Wellington

Merchant marine:

total: 10 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 77,523 GRT/108,352 DWT
by type: bulk 3, cargo 2, container 1, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 2
registered in other countries: 8 (2003 est.)
foreign-owned: Australia 1, Isle of Man 1


113 (2003 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 46
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 27
under 914 m: 5 (2003 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 67
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 28
under 914 m: 37 (2003 est.)

Military branches:

New Zealand Army, Royal New Zealand Navy, Royal New Zealand Air Force

Disputes - international:

territorial claim in Antarctica (Ross Dependency)