New Zealand, The Republic of

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    The Republic of New Zealand

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    Basic Information

    • Short Name: New Zealand
    • Māori Names: Te Rūnanga Aotearoa; Aotearoa
    • National Anthem: God Defend New Zealand


    • Population: 15.6 million
    • Capital: Wellington
    • Largest City: Auckland (4.23 million in urban area)


    • White European: 70.1%
    • Maori or Maori-mixed: 24.6%
    • Other ethnicities: 5.2%


    • Religious: 45.82%
      -- Roman Catholic: 6.29%
      -- Protestant: 31.64%
      -- Hindu: 2.63%
      -- Buddhist: 1.12%
      -- Muslim: 1.31%
      -- Other religions: 2.83%
    • Non Religious: 48.47%
    • Unknown/DNA: 5.71%

    Government: Unitary parliamentary republic

    • Head of State: President Patsy Reddy
    • Head of Government: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Labour)
    • Speaker of the House of Representatives: Trevor Mallard (Labour)
    • President of the Legislative Council: Scott Ryan (National)

    Parliament: Bicameral

    • Lower House: House of Representatives (150 seats)
    • Upper House: Legislative Council (54 seats)

    Stages of Independence:

    • Responsible government - 7 May 1856
    • Treaty of Auckland - 1 January 1900


    • GDP: $374.8 billion (€588 billion)
    • GDP per capita: $24,498 (€38,444)
    • Gini: 33.9 (medium)
    • HDI: .867 (very high)
    • Currency: New Zealand dollar ($)


    • Time Zone: UTC+0 (no DST)
    • Date Format: dd-mm-yy
    • Driving Side: left
    • Calling code: +64
    • ISO 3166 code: NZ
    • Internet TLD: .nz

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    New Zealand was one of the last landmasses to be settled in the known world, with several indigenous explorers settling the islands of New Zealand in the late 13th century. Dutch speaking explorers named the area Nova Zeelandia. When settled by English speaking settlers, the name changed to New Zealand.

    New Zealand settlers at first lived in harmony with the indigenous Māori tribes. However, that peace would end with the withdrawal of Angleteric direct governance in 1848 among its revolutions and eventual loss of sea access. The situation would grow more and more tense for the now provisional national government, and the Zealand Wars would begin. European nations backed the provisional government and eventually fought the Māori to a relative stalemate. The wars were ended with the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty between the New Zealand settlers and the Māori forbid the sale of Māori lands to any other entity but the Government. This also established the Dominion of New Zealand, giving all who lived in the islands (Māori and English speaking alike) the rights of citizenship. As the Dominion continued to flourish in the mid to late 19th Century, suzerainty between Angleter and New Zealand finally became untenable and an agreement of independence was struck in the Treaty of New Birmingham. It took effect on January 1, 1900. This gave New Zealand full control of its destiny as one of the first modern parliamentary republics.

    Early in the 20th century, New Zealand was involved in world affairs and suffered through a very large economic depression. The depression led to the election of the First Labour Government and the establishment of a comprehensive welfare state and a protectionist economy. New Zealand experienced increasing prosperity following the Labour reforms, and Māori began to leave their traditional rural life and move to the cities in search of work.A Māori protest movement developed, which criticised white Eurocentrism and worked for greater recognition of Māori culture and of the Treaty of Waitangi. In 1975, a Waitangi Tribunal was set up to investigate alleged breaches of the Treaty, and it was enabled to investigate historic grievances in 1985. The government has negotiated settlements of these grievances with many iwi, although Māori claims to the foreshore and seabed have proved controversial in the 2000s. Many white Kiwis and successive governments have worked to improve relations with the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, becoming consciously aware of many facts about the nature of the founding of the country.

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    Culture of New Zealand

    Early Māori adapted the tropically based indigenous culture in line with the challenges associated with a larger and more diverse environment, eventually developing their own distinctive culture. Social organisation was largely communal with families (whānau), subtribes (hapū) and tribes (iwi) ruled by a chief (rangatira), whose position was subject to the community's approval. The European immigrants brought aspects of their own culture to New Zealand and also influenced Māori culture, particularly with the introduction of Christianity. However, Māori still regard their allegiance to tribal groups as a vital part of their identity, and Māori kinship roles resemble those of other indigenous peoples. Non-Māori indigenous cultures are also apparent, with Pasifika, the world's largest indigenous festival, now an annual event in Auckland.

    The largely rural life in early New Zealand led to the image of New Zealanders being rugged, industrious problem solvers. Modesty was expected and enforced through the "tall poppy syndrome", where high achievers received harsh criticism. At the time New Zealand was not known as an intellectual country. From the early 20th century until the late 1960s, Māori culture was suppressed by the attempted assimilation of Māori into white New Zealanders culture. In the 1960s, as tertiary education became more available and cities expanded, urban culture began to dominate. However, rural imagery and themes are common in New Zealand's art, literature and media.

    New Zealand's national symbols are influenced by natural, historical, and Māori sources. The silver fern is an emblem appearing on army insignia and sporting team uniforms. Certain items of popular culture thought to be unique to New Zealand are called "Kiwiana".'

    Pākehā culture (usually synonymous with New Zealand European culture) derives mainly from that of the Angleteric or European settlers who colonised New Zealand in the nineteenth century. Until about the 1950s many Pākehā saw themselves as an Anglo-Saxon people, and retained strong cultural ties to the rest of Europe. Yet there was a common perception that people born in New Zealand were likely to be physically stronger and more adaptable than most Europeans. Another distinctive trait of Pākehā culture has been the egalitarian tradition, as opposed to the European class system. Within Pākehā culture there are also sub-cultures derived from other European groups, as well as various non-ethnic subcultures.

    It has been claimed that Pākehā do not actually have a culture, or if they do it is not a distinct one. Part of the problem is that high culture is often mistaken for culture in general, and the lack of recognition historically given to New Zealand's artists, writers and composers is seen as evidence of a lack of culture. In contrast, Pākehā pop culture is generally highly visible and valued. Others argue that belief in the 'absence' of culture in NZ is a symptom of white privilege, allowing members of a dominant group to see their culture as 'normal' or 'default', rather than as a specific position of relative advantage. One of the goals of Pākehā anti-racist groups of the 1980s was to enable Pākehā to see their own culture as such, rather than thinking what they did was normal and what other people did was 'ethnic' and strange.

    From the 1980s, Pākehā began to further explore their distinctive traditions and to argue that New Zealanders had a culture which was neither Māori nor European. There was an interest in "Kiwiana"—items from New Zealand's heritage that are seen as representing iconic Kiwi elements, such as the pōhutukawa (New Zealand Christmas tree), pāua-shell ash-tray, Buzzy Bee, Pineapple Lumps, gumboots and jandals.

    Maori Culture

    Māori culture (Māori: Māoritanga) involves the customs, cultural practices, and beliefs of the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand. Māori culture also forms a distinctive part of New Zealand culture and, due to a large diaspora and the incorporation of Māori motifs into popular culture, is found throughout the world. Within Māoridom, and to a lesser extent throughout New Zealand as a whole, the word Māoritanga is often used as an approximate synonym for Māori culture, the Māori-language suffix -tanga being roughly equivalent to the qualitative noun-ending -ness in English.Māoritanga has also been translated as "[a] Māori way of life."

    Four distinct but overlapping cultural eras have contributed historically to Māori culture:

    • before Māori culture had differentiated itself from other indigenous cultures (Archaic period)
    • before widespread European contact (Classic period)
    • the 19th century, in which Māori began interacting more intensively with European visitors and - settlers
    • the modern era since the beginning of the twentieth century

    Māoritanga in the modern era has been shaped by increasing urbanisation, closer contact with New Zealanders of European descent (or Pākehā) and revival of traditional practices.

    Traditional Māori arts play a large role in New Zealand art. They include whakairo (carving), raranga (weaving), kapa haka (group performance), whaikōrero (oratory), and tā moko (tattoo). The patterns and characters represented record the beliefs and genealogies (whakapapa) of Māori. Practitioners often follow the techniques of their ancestors, but in the 21st century Māoritanga also includes contemporary arts such as film, television, poetry and theatre.

    The Māori language is known as te reo Māori, shortened to te reo (literally, "the language"). At the beginning of the twentieth century, it seemed as if te reo Māori – as well as other aspects of Māori life – might disappear. In the 1980s, however, government-sponsored schools (Kura Kaupapa Māori) began to teach in te reo, educating those with European as well as those with Māori ancestry.

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    Map of the Republic of New Zealand

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    The New Zealand Political System

    New Zealand is a unitary parliamentary democracy. It has no formal codified constitution; the constitutional framework consists of a mixture of various documents Statue of New Birmingham, the Treaty of Waitangi and constitutional conventions. The Constitution Act in 1852 established the system of government and these were later consolidated in 1986. Constitutional rights are protected under common law and are strengthened by the Bill of Rights Act 1990 and Human Rights Act 1993, although these are not entrenched and can be overturned by Parliament with a simple majority. The Constitution Act 1986 describes the three branches of government in New Zealand: the executive (the President and the Executive Council), the legislature (Parliament) and the judiciary (Courts).

    Parliament is responsible for passing laws, adopting the state's budgets, and exercising control of the executive government. It has a lower chamber, the House of Representatives, and an upper chamber, the Legislative Council. The Parliament meets in Parliament House, Wellington.

    Laws are first proposed to the House of Representatives or Legislative Council as bills. They have to go through a process of approval by the House and governor-general before becoming Acts of Parliament (i.e. statutory law).

    The lawmakers are known as members of Parliament, or MPs. Parliament is elected for a maximum term of three years, although an election may be called earlier in exceptional circumstances. Suffrage is universal for permanent residents eighteen years of age and older, women having gained the vote in 1893. As in many other parliamentary systems of government, the executive (called "the Government") is drawn from the House of Representatives and is answerable to Parliament—for example, a successful motion of no confidence will force a government either to resign or to seek a parliamentary dissolution and an early general election.

    Almost all parliamentary elections between 1853 and 1996 were held under the first past the post (FPP) electoral system. Under FPP the candidate in a given electorate (district) that received the most votes was elected to the House of Representatives. The only deviation from the FPP system during this time occurred in the 1908 election when a second ballot system was tried. The elections since 1935 have been dominated by two political parties, National and Labour.

    Criticism of the FPP system began in the 1950s and intensified after Labour lost elections in 1978 and 1981 despite having more overall votes than National. An indicative (non-binding) referendum to change the voting system was held in 1992, which led to a binding referendum during the 1993 election. As a result, New Zealand has used the mixed-member proportional (MMP) system since 1996. Under MMP, each member of Parliament is either directly-elected by voters in a single-member district via FPP or appointed from his or her party's list. The House of Representatives currently has 150 seats, though some past elections have resulted in overhang. By rarely producing an absolute majority for one party in the lower chamber, MMP ensures that parties need to come to an agreement with other parties to pass laws.

    The Legislative Council is made up of 75 seats and is wholly proportional. Their duty is to provide further scrutiny on legislation beyond the regular committee stage. Unlike the House of Representative,s this deliberative body does not have the authority to write primary legislation. Their task is to simply question legislation, debate it, and suggest changes to the House of Representatives. A councillor may not be an official member of the government, though councillors can be affiliated with a political party. All parties at a general election select lists of councillors they would like to see on the Council, and the President appoints them directly based on the proportion of the vote each party received in the general election. The Legislative Council

    Seven electorates are reserved for MPs elected on a separate Māori roll. However, Māori may choose to vote in and to run for the non-reserved electorates and for the party list (since 1996), and as a result many have now entered Parliament outside of the reserved seats.


    The President (Patsy Reddy) is New Zealand's head of state. The New Zealand republic has all The President's official business in New Zealand is conducted in the name of the "President of New Zealand". The President's role is largely ceremonial, and residual powers—called the "executive privilege"—are mostly exercised through the government of the day. These include the power to enact legislation, to sign treaties and to declare war.

    The President formally has the power to appoint and dismiss ministers and to dissolve Parliament; and the power to reject or sign bills into law after passage by the Parliament. He or she chairs the Executive Council, which is a formal committee consisting of all ministers, who advise the President on the exercising of the prerogative powers. Members of the Executive Council are required to be members of Parliament (MPs), and in practice are also in the Cabinet.

    Cabinet is the most senior policy-making body and is led by the prime minister, who is also, by convention, the parliamentary leader of the largest governing party. The prime minister, being the de facto leader of New Zealand, exercises executive functions that are formally vested in the President (by way of the executive privileges). Ministers within Cabinet make major decisions collectively, and are therefore collectively responsible for the consequences of these decisions. Following a general election, a government is formed by the party or coalition that can command the confidence (support) of a majority of MPs in the House of Representatives.


    The New Zealand judiciary has four basic levels of courts:[40]

    • The Supreme Court;
    • The Court of Appeal
    • The High Court and Native Title Court
    • District Court

    The Supreme Court is New Zealand's court of last resort. The High Court deals with serious criminal offences and civil matters, and hears appeals from subordinate courts. The Court of Appeal hears appeals from the High Court on points of law. Native Title Court deals with arbitration with Maori land rights and the state or Maori land rights and private enterprise.

    The chief justice, the head of the judiciary, presides over the Supreme Court, and is appointed by the President on the advice of the prime minister. As of 2019 the incumbent Chief Justice is Dame Helen Winkelmann. All other superior court judges are appointed on the advice of the chief justice, the attorney-general, and the solicitor-general. Judges and judicial officers are appointed non-politically and under strict rules regarding tenure to help maintain judicial independence from the executive government. Judges are appointed according to their qualifications, personal qualities, and relevant experience. A judge may not be removed from office except by the attorney-general upon an address of the House of Representatives for proved misbehaviour.

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    Auckland: The Financial Capital of New Zealand

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