Portal:New Zealand
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Portal:New Zealand


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New Zealand (M?ori: Aotearoa [a?'t?aa]) is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses--the North Island (Te Ika-a-M?ui), and the South Island (Te Waipounamu)--and around 600 smaller islands. It has a total land area of 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi). New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Sometime between 1250 and 1300, Polynesians settled in the islands that later were named New Zealand and developed a distinctive M?ori culture. In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and M?ori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands. In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire and in 1907 it became a dominion; it gained full statutory independence in 1947 and the British monarch remained the head of state. Today, the majority of New Zealand's population of 4.9 million is of European descent; the indigenous M?ori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Reflecting this, New Zealand's culture is mainly derived from M?ori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration. The official languages are English, M?ori, and New Zealand Sign Language, with English being very dominant.

A developed country, New Zealand ranks highly in international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, protection of civil liberties, and economic freedom. New Zealand underwent major economic changes during the 1980s, which transformed it from a protectionist to a liberalised free-trade economy. The service sector dominates the national economy, followed by the industrial sector, and agriculture; international tourism is a significant source of revenue. Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the prime minister, currently Jacinda Ardern. Queen Elizabeth II is the country's monarch and is represented by a governor-general, currently Dame Patsy Reddy. In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes. The Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing states in free association with New Zealand); and the Ross Dependency, which is New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica. New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ASEAN Plus Six, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum.

Selected article

Swampy But Pretty Bog In Fiordland NZ.jpg
The Milford Track is New Zealand's most famous tramping route. It is located in stunning scenery amidst mountains and temperate rain forest in Fiordland National Park in the southwest of the South Island.

Traditionally, Maori used the Milford Track for gathering and transporting valuable greenstone. Sutherland and Mackay were the first European explorers to see Mackay Falls and Sutherland Falls, in 1880.

With Milford Sound never exploited by industrial or agricultural interests, most visitors and investors from early on decided that tourism was to be the main draw to the sound, and the Milford Track was established to a large degree to provide a tourism function for guided treks.

The track spans a distance of 53.5 km starting at the head of Lake Te Anau and finishing at Milford Sound at Sandfly Point. It traverses rainforests, wetlands, and dramatic alpine passes.

As a popular route, it is well maintained by the Department of Conservation and is one of the nine Great Walks.

Selected image

The Beehive by Sir Basil Spence.

The Beehive is the common name for the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings in Wellington. Credit for the design is usually given to British architect Sir Basil Spence, who made a rough sketch on the back of a dinner napkin in 1964 while dining with Keith Holyoake. The building was subsequently drafted and constructed by government departments and completed in 1981.

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