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About New Zealand

Tirohia tēnei whārangi i te reo Māori

Māori name: Aotearoa

Capital: Wellington

Largest city: Auckland

Official languages: English, Māori, NZ Sign Language

Population: 4,509,700 (est June 2014)

Area: 268,107 sq km

Currency: New Zealand dollar

Government: Parliamentary democracy

View Population Clock for more population statistics

 

Image, ethinc groups.
1. We include people who identify with more than one ethnic group in each of their ethnic groups.
2. 'Other ethnicity' includes New Zealander.

View source data for ethnic groups

View 2013 Census ethnic group profiles 

Natural environment

New Zealand, also known as Aotearoa (‘land of the long white cloud’), is a similar size to the United Kingdom. Nowhere is more than 130km from the sea. Sitting on the Pacific Rim, New Zealand has volcanoes and earthquakes. The climate is temperate, although weather in the far north is often subtropical during summer (December–March) and inland areas of the South Island can have severe frosts in winter (June–August). New Zealand has unique native plants and birds, such as the kiwi, and bats are the only native land mammals.

History

Māori arrived in ocean-going waka (canoes) from east Polynesia in the late 13th century. They initially lived in family or communal groups. In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to visit New Zealand. From 1769, English navigator James Cook mapped the country’s coast. In 1840, 500 Māori chiefs and representatives of Queen Victoria signed the Treaty of Waitangi. New Zealand became a British colony and many settlers arrived. However, government sometimes broke promises to protect Māori rights, which led to war between some Māori tribes and British and colonial troops. After this, Māori had much of their land taken. In 1893 New Zealand became the first country to give women the vote. Many New Zealanders served in overseas wars, including the two 20th century world wars. From the 1970s, the government has been negotiating settlements with Māori tribes – to make up for breaking Treaty promises in the past. Today New Zealand is an independent and multicultural Pacific nation. 

Economy

New Zealand has a market economy. For many years its earnings were mainly from farm products, such as wool and dairy products. Today developments such as tourism, film production, and winemaking are also significant. New Zealand depends heavily on international trade, especially with Australia, China, the European Union, and the United States. From the 1980s, New Zealand’s economic reforms freed up the market and removed many barriers to foreign investment.

Society

New Zealand has a similar-sized population to Ireland. More people live in the North Island than the South Island, and many more live in the cities than in the country. Auckland, the largest city, is home to many Pacific and Asian people who have settled since the 1950s. A democratically elected government contributes to schools, universities, and hospitals, so New Zealanders are generally well educated, healthy, and have a good standard of living.

Culture

Māori cultural traditions include music and dance, carving, weaving, and oral story-telling. British and European migrants brought their own art forms and cultural institutions after 1840. Later migrants added Pacific, Asian, and other traditions to New Zealand culture. There has been a major revival of Māori language and culture since the 1970s. New Zealand has produced many internationally significant musicians, writers, and visual and performing artists.

 

 

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