New Zealand lies in the southern Pacific Ocean, 1,600 km east of
Australia its closest neighbour. It is made up of the large North
and South Islands and a number of smaller islands, with a total
land area of close to 270,000 sq km. It has a diverse multi-cultural
population of around 3.8 million people, the majority of whom are
of British descent. New Zealand's indigenous Maori make up around
14 percent of the population, people of Polynesian descent make
up approximately 6 percent, and people of Asian descent make up
a further 6 percent. The people of New Zealand enjoy a year made
up of two main seasons, temperate climate zones and a vast array
of sports ranging from snow to sea.
New Zealand's political system is extremely stable and is based
on the Westminster system of Parliamentary Democracy. New Zealand
has long been a sovereign nation in its own right retaining ties
to Britain through New Zealand's membership of the Commonwealth
of Nations and to the English Crown, represented in New Zealand
by a Governor General appointed by the New Zealand government. The
Governor General retains certain residual powers including those
of dissolving Parliament in certain situations, and formally assenting
to all legislation. New Zealand has a mixed member proportional
(MMP) Parliament of 120 seats and elections are held every 3 years.
The independence of the judiciary is an important principle of
New Zealand's constitution. Judges are normally selected only from
very senior lawyers, and are appointed by the Governor General.
The Court structure is hierarchical, beginning with Magistrates
Courts, then the High Court, then the Court of Appeal, and finally
the Privy Council in London.
In the past 20 years the New Zealand government has accomplished
major economic restructuring, moving an agrarian economy dependent
on concessionary British market access toward a more industrialised,
free market economy that competes globally. This vibrant growth
has boosted incomes, broadened and deepened the technological capabilities
of the industrial sector, and contained inflationary pressures.
Inflation remains among the lowest in the industrial world.
New Zealand has a modern economy linked closely with its nearest
neighbour Australia, and enjoys an excellent international banking
and financial infrastructure. The New Zealand economy derives its
main income from food processing, wood and paper products, textiles,
machinery, transportation equipment, banking and insurance, tourism,
mining and agricultural sourced products. New Zealand's major trading
partners are Australia, the United States and Japan. New Zealand
is a member of the World Trade Organisation, the OECD and many other
political and economic bodies.
English is the primary and everyday language of New Zealand. New
Zealand is a multi-cultural society and you may hear many other
languages spoken, including Maori, which is also an official language
of New Zealand.
The unit of currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$),
currently converted to USD at approx 2:1. There are no foreign exchange
Auckland is the gateway to New Zealand for most international travellers.
Auckland is a bustling commercial centre with a population of just
over one million and rivals the sophistication of many larger international
Many international surveys record Auckland to be one of the top
10 cities in the world in which to live, and the city boasts a wide
range of theatres, galleries, museums, five star hotels and top
class restaurants. It has the world's largest Polynesian population
and a fast growing Asian community. Auckland is the most cosmopolitan
city in New Zealand.