Feb 27, 2009



FM from Dealova Group CARI

New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous Māori named New Zealand Aotearoa, commonly translated as The Land of the Long White Cloud. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica).

New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation, situated about 2000 km (1250 miles) southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are New CaledoniaFiji and Tonga. During its long isolation New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, a number of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and the mammals they introduced.

The population is mostly of European descent, with the indigenous Māori being the largest minority. Asians and non-Māori Polynesians are also significant minorities, especially in the urban areasElizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the Head of State and, in her absence, is represented by a non-partisan Governor-General. She has no real political influence, and her position is essentially symbolic.Political power is held by the democratically elected Parliament of New Zealand under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who is thehead of government. New Zealand's open economy is known for being one of the world's most free market capitalist economies.

It is unknown whether Māori had a name for New Zealand as a whole before the arrival of Europeans, although they referred to the North Island as Te Ika a Māui (the fish of Māui) and the South Island as Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of greenstone) or Te Waka o Aoraki (the canoe of Aoraki). Until the early 20th century, the North Island was also referred to as Aotearoa (colloquially translated "land of the long white cloud"); in modern Māori usage, this name refers to the whole country. Aotearoa is also commonly used in this sense in New Zealand English.

The first European name for New Zealand was Staten Landt, the name given to it by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who in 1642 became the first European to see the islands. Tasman assumed it was part of a southern continent connected with land discovered in 1615 off the southern tip of South America by Jacob Le Maire. The name New Zealand originated with Dutch cartographers, who called the islands Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland. No one is certain exactly who first coined the term, but it first appeared in 1645 and may have been the choice of cartographer Johan Blaeu. British explorer James Cook subsequently anglicised the name to New Zealand. There is no connection to the Danish island Zealand.

New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major landmasses. The first settlers of New Zealand were Eastern Polynesians who came to New Zealand, probably in a series of migrations, sometime between around 700 and 2000 years ago. Over the following centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into Iwi (tribes) and hapū (subtribes) which would co-operate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Māori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their own distinct Moriori culture.

The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642. Māori killed several of the crew and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook's voyage of 1768–71.Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost the entire coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whalingsealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Māori timber, food, artefacts and water. On occasion, Europeans traded goods for sex. The potato and the musket transformed Māori agriculture and warfare, although the resulting Musket Wars died out once the tribal imbalance of arms had been rectified. From the early nineteenth century, Christian missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Māori population, who had become disillusioned with their indigenous faith by the introduction of Western culture.

Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi

Becoming aware of the lawless nature of European settlement and increasing interest in the territory by the French, the British government sent William Hobson to New Zealand to claim sovereignty and negotiate a treaty with Māori.The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in the Bay of Islands on 6 February 1840. The drafting was done hastily and confusion and disagreement continues to surround the translation. The Treaty is regarded as New Zealand's foundation as a nation and is revered by Māori as a guarantee of their rights. Hobson initially selected Okiato as the capital in 1840, before moving the seat of government to Auckland in 1841.

Under British rule New Zealand had been part of the colony of New South Wales. In 1840 New Zealand became its own dominion, which signalled increasing numbers of European settlers particularly from the British Isles. At first, Māori were eager to trade with the 'Pakeha', as they called them, and many iwi (tribes) became wealthy. As settler numbers increased, conflicts over land led to the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s and 1870s, resulting in the loss of much Māori land. The detail of European settlement and the acquisition of land from Māori remain controversial.

Gustavus von Tempsky is shot during the land wars

Representative government for the colony was provided for by the passing of the 1852 New Zealand Constitution Act by the United Kingdom. The 1st New Zealand Parliament met for the first time in 1854. In 1856 the colony became effectively self-governing with the grant of responsible government over all domestic matters other than native policy. Power in this respect would be transferred to the colonial administration in the 1860s. In 1863 PremierAlfred Domett moved a resolution that the capital transfer to a locality in Cook Strait, apparently due to concern the South Island could form a separate colony. Commissioners from Australia (chosen for their neutral status) advised Wellington as suitable because of its harbour and central location, and parliament officially sat there for the first time in 1865. In 1893, the country became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. In 1907, New Zealand became an independent Dominion and a fully independent nation in 1947 when the Statute of Westminster (1931) was ratified, although in practice Britain had ceased to play any real role in the government of New Zealand much earlier than this. As New Zealand became more politically independent it became more dependent economically; in the 1890s, refrigerated shipping allowed New Zealand to base its entire economy on the export of meat and dairy products to Britain.

New Zealand was an enthusiastic member of the British Empire, fighting in the Boer WarWorld War I and World War II and supporting Britain in theSuez Crisis. The country was very much a part of the world economy and suffered as others did in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The depression led to the election of the first Labour government, which established a comprehensive welfare state and a protectionist economy.

New Zealand experienced increasing prosperity following World War II. However, some social problems were developing; Māori had begun to move to the cities in search of work and excitement rather than the traditional rural way of life. A Māori protest movement would eventually form, criticisingEurocentrism and seeking more recognition of Māori culture and the Treaty of Waitangi, which they felt had not been fully honoured. In 1975 a Waitangi Tribunal was set up to investigate alleged breaches of the Treaty, and enabled to investigate historic grievances in 1985. In common with all other developed countries, social developments accelerated in the 1970s and social and political mores changed. By the 1970s, the traditional trade with Britain was threatened because of Britain's membership of the European Economic Community. Great economic and social changes took place in the 1980s under the 4th Labour government largely led by Finance Minister Roger Douglas, and commonly referred to as "Rogernomics."