New Zealand Country Overview

By | January 27, 2022

According to shoppingpicks, New Zealand is a country in Oceania that is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia. It is made up of two large islands, the North Island and the South Island, along with other smaller islands, among them Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands. This island nation is bordered to the north and east by the South Pacific, to the west by the Tasman Sea and to the south by the Antarctic Ocean.

The North Island is the most populated and constitutes the nucleus of commercial and business activities, while the South Island is richer in majestic landscapes and natural parks.

The main city is Auckland and the capital, Wellington. Another important site is Queenstown. New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue, which are autonomous but in free association with this country; it also administers Tokelau and has a territorial claim in Antarctica, called the Ross Dependency.


Recent history

The 21 of February of 2011 New Zealand was hit by a powerful earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale that left 65 fatalities (the most ever for a natural disaster in 80 years). Christchurch, the second largest city in the country, was declared a total disaster area. Referring to the fact by the press, Prime Minister John Key stated:

We are witnessing one of New Zealand’s blackest days.


New Zealand was one of the last areas suitable for the settlement of man. The first settlers were the Maori, a Polynesian people who came here about 1000 years ago. European settlements did not begin until the 1820s, but today approximately 88% of New Zealanders are of European descent, especially British; 8.9% are of Maori origin; 2.9% comes from other Pacific islands, specifically Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga and Tokelau, although there are other ethnic groups, particularly Asians, that make up the rest of the population.

Population characteristics

New Zealand’s population is estimated at 4,154,311, representing a population density of 16 residents / km², of which almost three-quarters of the total population live on the North Island. Today, as in the past, the North Island brings together the vast majority of Maori, especially in the Auckland area and its surroundings, in addition to the East Cape or Aotearoa, considered the cultural and linguistic cradle of the Maori.

Main cities

With a 2005 population of 370,100, Wellington is New Zealand’s commercial and political capital and an inter-island hub for coastal transportation and communications. Auckland, with 404,658 residents, is the largest city in the country and the main industrial center, as well as being the one with the largest population of Polynesian origin (not only Maori) in all of New Zealand.

Other important urban centers are: Christchurch (367,800 residents), the largest city in the South Island and the second largest industrial area in New Zealand, as well as a fundamental nucleus of cereal production; Hamilton (185,100 residents), a dairy cattle center on the North Island, and finally Dunedin (114,800 residents), a sheep and gold center in the southern part of the South Island.


Most New Zealanders consider themselves Christians, primarily Anglicans (25%), Presbyterians (16%), and Catholics (15%). Methodist and Protestant beliefs also have a prominent presence among the population. Most of the Maori are members of the Ringatu and Ratana Christian Churches. There are small minorities of Jews, Hindus, and Confucians. About 18% of the population do not profess any religious belief.

Official language

English and Maori are the official languages of New Zealand, although the country is predominantly English-speaking, with almost all Maori speaking English. Only a small percentage of the population uses other Polynesian, European and Asian languages.


Education is compulsory for ages 6 to 16, although children can enter school at age 5 and continue until age 19. Public education is free and is taught from ages 5 to 19. In most regions, there are nursery schools for children between the ages of 3 and 5. Elementary courses consist of two years of early childhood education followed by six levels, of which levels 1, 2, 3, 4 and stages I and II are common.

Most children complete their elementary education at the same school, but in some regions they go to secondary schools to complete stages I and II. Children who pass these stages or who have already reached the age of 14 can access middle or high school. As a complement to the third or fourth year of secondary education. Those who leave the schools to enter the university must pass an entrance exam and, if they are over 21 years old, they must take another type of selective test.

Maori children have the possibility to take classes in their own language up to the secondary stage, when Maori is taught as an official subject. The more than 600 nursery schools (or kohanga reo) teach the first years of teaching Maori. Elementary schools offer one or even both options: bilingual or full language immersion classes. Both Maori nursery schools and elementary schools are open to non-Maori children.


Gross domestic product was estimated to be US $ 104,519 million. Agriculture and the export of wool, meat and dairy products provide the basis for the development of New Zealand’s modern economy.

The agriculture remains important, as evidenced by the traditional products are the key elements of foreign trade, although the New Zealand economy has undergone profound changes, particularly during the last twenty years. Agriculture represented, industry and the service sector. Tourism was an important source of income.

Executive power

This power is vested directly by the British monarchy and exercised by the New Zealand Governor General, who must at all times act under the direction of the Executive Council, which is made up of the Governor General and all government ministers, headed by the Prime Minister. The administrative body is formed by the cabinet, made up of the prime minister and the ministers of each portfolio. The governor general appoints the prime minister and other ministerial representatives following the recommendations of the first.

Legislative power

New Zealand has a unicameral Parliament called the House of Representatives, the second chamber was abolished in 1950. This chamber is made up of 120 members, including the four representatives of the Maori electorate, and is elected by universal suffrage every three years. The four Maori seats cover electoral districts across the country. Almost 50% of Maori of legal age can register as voters for these four seats. In the event that this is the case, they will not be able to join the general electoral lists, since like the rest of New Zealanders they only have the right to one vote.

In the 1992 and 1993 referendums, New Zealanders decided to change the traditional electoral system of yesteryear to the proportional system of mixed candidacies, according to the German model. The electoral candidacies were then combined with the candidates by closed lists (see Proportional representation), increasing the number of parliamentary seats to 120.

Power of attorney

The Supreme Court of New Zealand is the Court of Appeals which exercises sole jurisdiction over such appeals. The decisions of the Court are always final, unless they go to the Council of Ministers of Great Britain. The main courts are the Superior and the district court. On many occasions the justices of the peace can hear cases for lesser charges. There are specialized courts for family and minor cases.

local government

Beginning with the local government reforms of 1996, New Zealand was divided into 16 regions, each governed by a board. These regions are: Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Taranaki, Gisborne, Waikato, Manawatu-Wanganuiand Wellington on the North Island, Canterbury, Otago, Nelson, Marlborough, Southland, Tasman and the West Coast on the South Island. They are divided into 15 cities and 59 districts. Most local government representatives are elected for three-year terms.

Health and social welfare

Life expectancy is 76.1 years for men and 82.2 for women. New Zealand was the first country in the world to introduce the welfare state in 1936. Until 1990, the aspects it covered were those considered most necessary, such as free medical care and hospitalization, retirement pensions and unemployment benefits, as well as support for the family, disabled people or people with chronic illnesses. Since then, this aid has been reduced in amount and availability, and forms of partial financing have been introduced in some aspects of health following the British system, which has led to public discontent. The government was forced to withdraw some of its claims, after meeting with ecclesiastical opposition, different social groups and widespread popular protests.

New Zealand Country Overview