Geographic and Governmental Profile of New Zealand

The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about A.D. 800. In 1840, their chieftains entered into a compact with Britain, the Treaty of Waitangi, in which they ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria while retaining territorial rights. In that same year, the British began the first organized colonial settlement. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the defeat of the native peoples. The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the UK militarily in both world wars. New Zealand's full participation in a number of defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.
Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia
Geographic coordinates
41 00 S, 174 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
267,710 sq km
267,710 sq km
includes Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands
Area - comparative
about the size of Colorado
Land boundaries
0 km
15,134 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
continental shelf:
200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
temperate with sharp regional contrasts
predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point:
Aoraki-Mount Cook 3,754 m
Natural resources
natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone
Land use
arable land:
permanent crops:
87.54% (2005)
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Irrigated land
6,190 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
397 cu km (1995)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
2.11 cu km/yr (48%/9%/42%)
per capita:
524 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity
significant volcanism on North Island; Ruapehu (elev. 2,797 m), which last erupted in 2007, has a history of large eruptions in the past century; Taranaki has the potential to produce dangerous avalanches and lahars; other historically active volcanoes include Okataina, Raoul Island, Tongariro, and White Island
Environment - current issues
deforestation; soil erosion; native flora and fauna hard-hit by invasive species
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:
Antarctic Seals, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note
almost 90% of the population lives in cities; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world
Country name
conventional long form:
conventional short form:
New Zealand
Government type
parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
geographic coordinates:
41 18 S, 174 47 E
time difference:
UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time:
+1hr, begins last Sunday in September; ends first Sunday in April
New Zealand is divided into two time zones - New Zealand standard time (12 hours in advance of UTC), and Chatham Islands time (45 minutes in advance of New Zealand standard time)
Administrative divisions
16 regions and 1 territory*; Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Chatham Islands*, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui, Marlborough, Nelson, Northland, Otago, Southland, Taranaki, Tasman, Waikato, Wellington, West Coast
Dependent areas
Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau
26 September 1907 (from the UK)
National holiday
Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840); ANZAC Day (commemorated as the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)
consists of a series of legal documents, including certain acts of the UK and New Zealand parliaments, as well as The Constitution Act 1986, which is the principal formal charter; adopted 1 January 1987, effective 1 January 1987
Legal system
common law system, based on English model, with special legislation and land courts for the Maori
International law organization participation
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Lt Gen Sir Jerry MATEPARAE (since 31 August 2011)
head of government:
Prime Minister John KEY (since 19 November 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Simon William ENGLISH (since 19 November 2008)
Executive Council appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister
the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of a majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general
Legislative branch
unicameral House of Representatives - commonly called Parliament (usually 120 seats; 70 members elected by popular vote in single-member constituencies including 7 Maori constituencies, 50 proportional seats chosen from party lists; serve three-year terms)
last held on 26 November 2011 (next to be held not later than November 2014)
election results:
percent of vote by party - National Party 48%, Labor Party 27.1%, Green Party 10.6%, NZ First 6.8%, Maori 1.4%, ACT Party 1.1%, Mana 1%, United Future 0.6%, other 3.43%; seats by party - National Party 60, Labor Party 34, Green Party 13, NZ First 8, Maori 3, ACT Party 1, Mana 1, United Future 1
results of 2011 election saw the total number of seats decline to 121
Judicial branch
Supreme Court; Court of Appeal; High Court; note - judges appointed by the governor general
Political parties and leaders
ACT New Zealand [Rodney HIDE]; Green Party [Russel NORMAN and Metiria TUREI]; Mana Party [Hone HARAWIRA]; Maori Party [Tariana TURIA and Dr. Pita SHARPLES]; New Zealand National Party [John KEY]; New Zealand First Party or NZ First [Winston PETERS]; New Zealand Labor Party [Phil GOFF]; Jim Anderton's Progressive Party [James (Jim) ANDERTON]; United Future New Zealand [Peter DUNNE]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Women's Electoral Lobby or WEL
apartheid groups; civil rights groups; farmers groups; Maori; nuclear weapons groups; women's rights groups
International organization participation
ADB, ANZUS (US suspended security obligations to NZ on 11 August 1986), APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, Paris Club (associate), PCA, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMISS, UNMIT, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Michael K. MOORE
37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008
[1] (202) 328-4800
[1] (202) 667-5227
consulate(s) general:
New York, Santa Monica
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador David HUEBNER
29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington
mailing address:
P. O. Box 1190, Wellington; PSC 467, Box 1, APO AP 96531-1034
[64] (4) 462-6000
[64] (4) 499-0490
consulate(s) general:
Flag description
blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant with four red five-pointed stars edged in white centered in the outer half of the flag; the stars represent the Southern Cross constellation
National symbol(s)
Southern Cross constellation (four, five-pointed stars); kiwi (bird)
National anthem
"God Defend New Zealand"
Thomas BRACKEN [English], Thomas Henry SMITH [Maori]/John Joseph WOODS
adopted 1940 as national song, adopted 1977 as co-national anthem; New Zealand has two national anthems with equal status; as a commonwealth realm, in addition to "God Defend New Zealand," "God Save the Queen" serves as a national anthem (see United Kingdom); "God Save the Queen" normally is played only when a member of the royal family or the governor-general is present; in all other cases, "God Defend New Zealand" is played
Government - note
while not an official symbol, the Kiwi, a small native flightless bird, represents New Zealand
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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