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Portal:New Zealand

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Introduction

Flag of New Zealand.svg

New Zealand (Māori: Aotearoa [aɔˈtɛaɾɔa]) is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui), and the South Island (Te Waipounamu)—and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometres (900 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 Māori culture. In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Māori 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 independence in 1947, but the British monarch remained the head of state. Today, the majority of New Zealand's population of 4.8 million is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Reflecting this, New Zealand's culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration. The official languages are English, Māori, and NZ Sign Language, with English being very dominant.

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.

Did you know...

Thomas Frederick Cheeseman.jpg
...that botanist Thomas Frederic Cheeseman (pictured) had a wide range of interests including Māori ethnology?

...that there was once an estuarine valley with a rich abundance of New Zealand flounders near Waipatiki Beach, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, but it became a stream system after an earthquake in 1931?

...that Frank Rennie joined the New Zealand Army at age 16, to prove to himself 20 months in hospital hadn't crippled him, and went on to become Colonel?

In the news

  • November 24: Ferry MV Suilven sinks in Suva, Fiji
  • October 19: Searchers find wreckage of New Zealand fishing boat 'Jubilee'
  • May 7: New Zealand begins process to consider changing national flag design
  • April 27: Over 10,000 attend Gallipoli dawn service for ANZAC Day centenary
  • March 10: Cricket World Cup 2015: New Zealand defeats Afghanistan by six wickets in Napier
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