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New Zealand
File:God Defend New Zealand instrumental.ogg

"God Defend New Zealand"
"God Save the Queen"[n 1]
The hemisphere centred on New Zealand
The hemisphere centred on New Zealand
41°17′S 174°27′E / 41.283°S 174.45°E / -41.283; 174.45
Largest city Auckland
Official languages English (95.9%)[n 2]
Māori (4.2%)
NZ Sign Language (0.6%)
National language English (98%)
Ethnic groups 78% European/Other[n 3]
14.6% Māori
9.2% Asian
6.9% Pacific peoples
Demonym New Zealander,
Kiwi (colloquial)
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae
 -  Prime Minister John Key
Independence from the United Kingdom[n 4]
 -  New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 17 January 1853 
 -  Dominion 26 September 1907 
 -  Statute of Westminster 11 December 1931 (adopted 25 November 1947) 
 -  Constitution Act 1986 13 December 1986 
 -  Total 268,021 km2 (75th)
103,483 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.6[n 5]
 -  September 2011 estimate 4,414,400[6] (124th)
 -  2006 census 4,027,947[7]
 -  Density 16.5/km2 (202nd)
42.7/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $120.2 billion[8] (61st)
 -  Per capita $27,217[8] (32nd)
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $157.877 billion[8] (51st)
 -  Per capita $35,374[8] (24th)
Gini (1997)36.2[9]
HDI (2011)Increase 0.908[10]
very high · 5th
Currency New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Time zone NZST[n 6] (UTC+12)
 -  Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
(Sep to Apr)
Date format dd/mm/yyyy
Drives on the left
Calling code +64
Internet TLD .nz[n 7]

New Zealand (also called Aotearoa) is an Oceanian country in the south-western Pacific Ocean. It is made up of two large islands (the North Island and the South Island) and several much smaller islands. It is currently ranked as the 8th happiest country in the world.[11] The official languages are English, Māori and New Zealand sign language.



The name "New Zealand" comes from “Zeeland” in Dutch. Zeeland is a province of the Netherlands. New Zealand is called “Aotearoa” in the Māori language. It means "Land of the Long White Cloud". Ao means “cloud”, tea means “white”, and roa means “long”.

Government and politics

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. The Prime Minister is Mr. John Key.

New Zealand has made itself a Nuclear Free Zone: They do not use nuclear power and do not allow nuclear weapons or nuclear powered vessels in their territory.


As of the 2006 census, 4,143,279 people lived in New Zealand.[12] Most of them had European ancestors.[13] The indigenous people of New Zealand, the Māori, had a population of 565,329, or 14.6%.

The people of New Zealand call themselves Kiwis, representing their national native although flightless bird. The North Island is smaller than the South Island, but most people (more than 3 million) live there.

The main religion in New Zealand is Christianity. Just over 2 million New Zealanders are Christian.[14]


Farming represents a large community in both the North and South Islands. Most New Zealanders, however, choose to live in more urban areas. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. Auckland is the largest city, with around 1 million people. Other cities in the North Island include Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier/Hastings, New Plymouth, Wanganui, and Palmerston North. South Island cities include Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Invercargill and Timaru.

Geological origin

Major fault zones of New Zealand. It shows how the Pacific and Australian plates move against each other.

New Zealand sits at the boundary between two continental plates. They are the Australian and Pacific plates. When these two plates moved together ('collided'), one (the Pacific) moved under the other (the Australian) north of the South Island. As a result, there was a great deal of volcanic activity. South of the South Island, the Australian plate moves under the Pacific plate instead. The plates slide past each other in the South Island, where they have pushed up the Southern Alps. Because of these two colliding plates, New Zealand often has earthquakes. One of the best known is the 2010-2011 group of earthquakes that hit the Christchurch area.

The diagram shows that the North Island is on the Australian plate, but most of the South Island is on the Pacific plate. New Zealand is still geologically active, and will remain so as long as the islands are sitting above the plate boundary.[15][16][17]

Ancient geology

The oldest rocks in New Zealand date from the Cambrian period, 510 million years ago. New Zealand became part of the global super continent Pangaea. When that split (End-Triassic/early Jurassic), New Zealand became part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana. Finally Gondwana broke up, leaving the continents rather as they are today. New Zealand (like Britain) is a remnant of these great events.

Natural history

New Zealand was isolated from the rest of the world for a long time. It split from Australia 83 million years ago. Because of this, there are many plants and animals that only live in New Zealand. Before humans came to New Zealand, there were no mammals, except three species of bat and marine mammals such as seals, dolphins, and whales. Instead, New Zealand has many different kinds of bird. New Zealand has several species of flightless bird, including the kiwi. Especially important is the Tuatara, the only living member of a whole order of reptiles.

New Zealand used to have more rare species, but some, mostly birds, were hunted to extinction early in its history. The giant Moa, Dinornis, is a famous example. The group of birds to which the Moa belongs had been in existence since the Cretaceous period. Humans arrived in New Zealand about a thousand years ago, when a large number of moas lived, especially on South Island. Archaeological sites with evidence of Moa hunting are all over New Zealand. The moas became extinct about five hundred years ago.[18] Extinctions closer to today have been caused by habitat change and introduced species like rats and dogs, which can kill the native species.

Other information

Related pages


  1. "New Zealand's National Anthems". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  2. "Protocol for using New Zealand's National Anthems". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  3. "QuickStats About Culture and Identity: Languages spoken". Statistics New Zealand. March 2006. Retrieved 20 February 2008.
  4. Didham, Robert; Potter, Deb (April 2005). Understanding and Working with Ethnicity Data. Statistics New Zealand. ISBN 9780478315059 . Archived from the original on 25 November 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  5. "The New Zealand Land Cover Database". New Zealand Land Cover Database 2. New Zealand Ministry for the Environment. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  6. "National Population Estimates: September 2011 quarter". Statistics New Zealand. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  7. "QuickStats About New Zealand's Population and Dwellings: Population counts". 2006 Census. Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "New Zealand". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  9. "Equality and inequality: Gini index". Human Development Report 2009. United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  10. "Human Development Report 2011". United Nations. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  11. "NZ 8th happiest country in the world - Yahoo!Xtra News". Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  12. "QuickStats About New Zealand's Population and Dwellings - Statistics New Zealand". Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  13. "QuickStats About Culture and Identity - Statistics New Zealand". Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  14. "QuickStats About Culture and Identity - Statistics New Zealand". Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  15. Graham, Ian J. et al. 2008. A continent on the move : New Zealand geoscience into the 21st century. The Geological Society of New Zealand in association with GNS Science. ISBN 978-1-877480-00-3
  16. Campbell, Hamish & Hutching, Gerard 2007. In search of ancient New Zealand, Penguin Books in association with GNS Science. ISBN 978-0-14-302088-2
  17. Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand An overview of New Zealand's geology
  18. Martin P.S. and Klein R.G. (eds) Quaternary extinctions: a prehistoric revolution. University of Arizona Press, Tucson AZ.


  1. "God Save the Queen" is officially a national anthem but is generally used only on regal and vice-regal occasions.[1][2]
  2. Language 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).[3]
  3. Ethnicity percentages add to more than 100% because some people identify with more than one ethnic group.[4]
  4. There is a multitude of dates that could be considered to mark independence (see Independence of New Zealand).
  5. The proportion of New Zealand's area (excluding estuaries) covered by rivers, lakes and ponds, based on figures from the New Zealand Land Cover Database,[5] is (357526 + 81936) / (26821559 – 92499–26033 – 19216) = 1.6%. If estuarine open water, mangroves, and herbaceous saline vegetation are included, the figure is 2.2%.
  6. The Chatham Islands have a separate time zone, 45 minutes ahead of the rest of New Zealand.
  7. The territories of Niue, the Cook Islands and Tokelau have their own cctlds, .nu, .ck and .tk respectively.