It is important as new or prospective migrants to have a brief outline of the history of this young and very beautiful country and this is detailed briefly below.
- 1300 (approximately) East Polynesian people arrived. Now known as the Maori people. They did not identify themselves by this collective name until the arrival of European people.
- 1642 Abel Tasman is the first European to see New Zealand.
- 1769 James Cook arrives in New Zealand and claims it for Great Britain (North Island 1769 and South Island 1770).
- 1835 Declaration of Independence signed by 34 Maori chiefs.
- 1840 Treaty of Waitangi signed.
- 1865 Wellington replaces Auckland as the capital city.
- 1882 First shipment of frozen meat leaves for Europe.
- 1891 Liberal government embarks on significant social and infrastructure reforms.
- 1893 New Zealand becomes the first country to give women the vote.
- 1907 New Zealand becomes a dominion.
- 1908 New Zealand population reaches 1 million.
- 1933 New Zealand adopts own currency, the New Zealand pound.
- 1947 New Zealand adopts the Statute of Westminster (1931) and thus becomes independent from Great Britain.
- 1952 New Zealand population reaches 2 million.
- 1967 Decimalization of currency sees the New Zealand dollar introduced.
- 1973 New Zealand population reaches 3 million.
- 1981 Tour of New Zealand by South Africa’s Springbok rugby team divides New Zealand society.
- 1983 Closer Economics Agreement signed with Australia.
- 1985 Waitangi Tribunal given power to hear historic Maori land grievances going back to 1840.
- 1987 Maori declared an official language alongside English.
- 1987 New Zealand becomes nuclear free.
- 1999 Helen Clark is New Zealand’s first elected woman prime minister.
- 2003 New Zealand population reaches 4 million.
- 2004 Parliament passes the Foreshore and Seabed Act, asserting Crown ownership and setting up a system to recognize Maori customary rights.
- 2005 New Zealand Government gives NZ$68 million in aid and sends 113 defense personnel to support the Asian tsunami relief effort.
- 2006 Maori Queen Te Arikui Dame Te Atairanghuaha dies.
- 2008 Sir Edmund Hilary, mountaineer, dies.
- 2009 Parliament passes the Auckland ‘super city’ bill.
The geography of New Zealand encompasses two main islands the North and South Islands and a number of smaller islands. The dramatic and varied landscape of New Zealand has made it a well visited tourist destination and a popular location for the production of films such as “Lord of the Rings “trilogy.
New Zealand is in Oceania, in the South Pacific Ocean. It has an area of 268 680 square kilometers, 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. The country has 15 134 Km of coastline and extensive marine resources.
The climate is mostly cool temperate to warm temperate. January and February are the warmest months, July the coldest. New Zealand does not have a large temperature range but the weather can change rapidly and unexpectedly. Subtropical conditions are experienced in Northland.
Most 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 cost of the South Island, predominantly on the Canterbury Plains. Christchurch is the driest city, receiving about 640 mm of rain per year, while Auckland is the wettest, receiving almost twice that amount.
New Zealand’s UV index can be very high in some places and extreme in the hottest times of the year in the north of North Island. This is partly due to the country’s relatively little air pollution compared to many other countries.
Click here to view a map of New Zealand
The economy of New Zealand is a market economy which is greatly dependent on international trade, mainly with Australia, the European Union, the United States, China and Japan. It has only small manufacturing and high-tech sectors, being strongly focused on tourism and primary industries like agriculture (though both sectors are highly profitable).
Economic free-market reforms of the last decades have removed many barriers to foreign investment, and the World Bank in 2005 praised New Zealand as being the most business-friendly country in the world.
Traditionally New Zealand’s economy was built upon a narrow range of primary products, such as wool, meat and dairy products.
Since 1984, the government of New Zealand has undertaken major economic restructuring, moving an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access toward a more industrialised, free market economy that can compete globally. This growth has boosted real incomes, broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector, and contained inflationary pressures. Inflation remains among the lowest in the industrial world.
New Zealand’s economy has traditionally been based on a foundation of exports from its very efficient agricultural system. Leading agricultural exports now include meat, dairy products, forest products, fruit and vegetables, fish and wool. New Zealand was a direct beneficiary on many of the reforms achieved under the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, with agriculture in general and the dairy sector in particular enjoying many new trade opportunities in the long term.
The country has substantial hydroelectric power and sizable reserves of natural gas, much of which is exploited due primarily to major Keynesian import substitution-oriented industrial projects. Leading manufacturing sectors are food processing, metal fabrication, wood and paper products.
The healthcare system in New Zealand has undergone significant changes throughout the past several decades. From an essentially fully public system in the early 20th century, reforms have introduced market and health insurance elements primarily in the last three decades, creating a mixed public-private system for delivering healthcare.
The Accident Compensation Corporation covers the costs of treatment for cases deemed as ‘accidents’, for all people legally in New Zealand (including tourists), with the costs recovered via levies on employers, employees and some other sources such as car registration.
The high-quality system of public hospitals treats citizens, permanent residents and people on a minimum two year work and student visa free of charge and is managed by District Health Boards. However, costly or difficulty operations can require long waiting list delays unless the treatment is medically urgent. Because of this, a secondary market of health insurance schemes exists which fund operations and treatments of this type for their members privately.
Education in New Zealand follows the three-tier model which includes primary schools, followed by secondary schools and tertiary education at universities and polytechnics.
New Zealand’s education system is continually ranked amongst the best in the world.
Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16. Families wishing to home school their children can apply for an exemption. To get an exemption from enrollment at a registered school, they must satisfy the Secretary of Education that their child will be taught “as regularly and as well as in a registered school”.
Tertiary education fees for citizens and permanent residents are subsidised by the Government, and the student portion of the fee can be loaned from the Government under the Government’s Student Loan Scheme. Students enrolled in courses can access not only Student Loans but also Student Allowances to assist with fees and living costs.
New Zealand has 8 Universities, 5 Colleges of Education and a wealth of Polytechnics.