Not Australia, the one next to it. The semicolon, or as The Onion and Jon Stewart called it, "Australia's Canada".note Alternatively, given the inhabitants' love of Rugby Union and the significant presence of sheep, "Wales in the South Pacific" may also be a fair description.
New Zealand (Aotearoa, "The Land of the Long White Cloud" in Māorinote ) was a former British colony, becoming fully independent in 1947, although it had been a self-governing Dominion since 1907.
Residents of New Zealand are called New Zealanders or Kiwis (named after the bird). The word Pākehā is often used to identify New Zealanders of European descent, although it sometimes is also used to refer to non-Māori New Zealanders, or just non-Māori, generally.
NZ consists of two major landmasses, the North Island or Te Ika-a-Māui ("the fish of Māui"note ) and the South Island or Te Waipounamu ("the waters of greenstone"note ), along with a batch of other islands, including the Hauraki Gulf islands near Auckland, including Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island; the Chatham Islands off to the southeast; and Stewart Island immediately below the South Island. The atoll group of Tokelau, north of Samoa, is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand. There are also two Pacific Island nations, Niue and the Cook Islands, who are self-governing but are in "free association" with New Zealand, which mostly means that New Zealand manages their external affairs. Cities include Auckland (the largest), Wellington (the capital), Christchurch (the South Island's largest city), Hamilton, Tauranga, the twin cities of Napier and Hastings, Palmerston North, and Dunedin.
New Zealand is a Commonwealth Realm, i.e. a parliamentary democracy that recognizes the British Monarch as head of state. The overall structure is a constitutional monarchy like that of Britain's, with a few major differences:
- Parliament is elected by a mixed-member proportional system (MMP) every three years (give or take), which boils down to this: There are 120 seats in parliament. People get two votes: one vote to choose their local representative, of which the 71 districts each send one; and one vote for a party, which is tallied together with all the other votes cast across the country, which tally is then used to divvy up all 120 seats proportionally. After all the 71 local representatives take their seats, the remaining 50 are filled by representatives form each party's list. Of the 71 district seats, 64 are general district seats (16 in the South Island, 48 in the North) and seven are reserved for Māori MPs: Māori voters can choose whether they wish to enroll with the election of their administrative district's representative, or with the election of their Māori district's representative. Currently the nation is governed by the social democratic Labour Party with Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister.
- If you're German or familiar with German politics, it works basically the same as the Bundestag.
- Until 1993, the traditional First Past the Post system used in Britain was used, in which there were 99 districts and 99 seats: 95 general (25 South and 70 North) and four Māori.
- The New Zealand Parliament consists solely of one House, the House of Representatives; the Legislative Council was abolished in 1951.
- There is a Governor-General to serve as the monarch's viceroy, who discharges the (almost entirely ceremonial) daily duties of the head of state in the name of the King (rather than, you know, having him do it himself, which would be a pain given that he lives in London).
Māori, New Zealand Sign Language, and English (the de facto language) are its three official languages. There are also a significant number of people speaking Samoan, French, Hindi, and Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), with extra languages likely to be found on signs in airports and other touristy places, as well as parts of Auckland.
New Zealand was one of the last landmasses settled by humans: Māori only migrated to New Zealand in the late 1200's. Dutchman Abel Tasman was the first European to sight the country in 1642, but who was driven off by Māori before he could land. Dutch cartographers subsequently named the country New Zealand after the Dutch Province of Zeeland. Europeans (mostly Brits, although there was one abortive attempt by the French) first began settling in the country in the early 1800's.
New Zealanders (or Kiwis) view Captain James Cook similarly to how Americans view Christopher Columbus. This is because Cook's crew were the first Europeans to land in New Zealand and Cook produced the first accurate maps of the country (well, nearly accurate: he drew Stewart Island as a peninsula and Banks Peninsula as an island!)
The founding document of New Zealand is the Treaty of Waitangi, which was signed in 1840 between the British and representatives of Māori iwi and hapū (tribes and subtribes). This is viewed as the founding of New Zealand as a country. There is much controversy in what the Treaty actually said, as two versions were signed, one in te reo Māori and one in English, and the two said slightly different things about whether or not the Māori gave up their sovereignty to the British Crownnote and exactly how much of New Zealand the Māori were entitled to. Ever since the 1990s various iwi have been compensated for land or resource rights that were determined to have been inappropriately taken from them, and various national landmarks (such as Mount Cook) have been symbolically given back to the nearest iwi...which then promptly gifts the landmark back to the Crown.
Disputed land sales were also the leading cause of the New Zealand Wars, in which British imperial forces and Crown-supporting Māori (kūpapa) fought disenfranchised Māori iwi. Although massively outnumbered (estimates of 18,000 British and kūpapa against a peak of 5,000 Māori) the local Māori were surprisingly (to the British) resilient, making use of fortified villages called pa and guerrilla warfare to vex Imperial forces. This era saw the rise of many colourful and distinct characters such as Te Kooti, a religious leader and warlord who started New Zealand's Ringatū religion (which still exists today, with around 16,000 followers); Hone Heke, who cut down the flagstaff at Kororareka; and Gustavus von Tempsky, the eccentric adventurer who founded the Forest Rangers.
The Treaty is also why there are dedicated Māori language TV channels and radio stations: te reo Māori has been determined to be a "treasure" of the Māori people, and therefore it is the obligation of the Crown to protect and promote it. Some of the strongest anti-republican sentiment is among the Māori, as their existence as a political community is based on their relationship with the Crown; in a "Republic of New Zealand", they'd be just another ethnic group.
New Zealand claims to be the first country to give the vote to women in 1893. At the time, however, New Zealand was not a "country" in the sense of an independent nation-state, but merely a self-governing British colony. Other sub-national territories gave women the vote before 1893, including the American state of New Jersey in 1790, the Australian colonies of South Australia in 1863 and Victoria in 1864, and the Wyoming Territory in the U.S. in 1869 (which became the state of Wyoming in 1890). Despite this, New Zealand is still the first modern independent sovereign state to give the women the vote.
Kiwi troops served under the British in The Second Boer War. They were also a part of the ANZAC forces in World War I, sent to Gallipoli with the Australians. Their greatest accomplishment was the taking of Chunuk Bair. If you see soldiers with hats that look like Scoutmasters or like a lemonsqueezer, those'd be the New Zealanders.
New Zealand's Rugby Union team, the All Blacks, have long been ambassadors to the rest of the world. They have notably popularised the haka, a traditional Māori dance, which they perform before each match. Perhaps because of this notable example, there is a common misperception overseas (as well as for many in NZ) that all haka are war dances. This is by no means true, and even the haka the All Blacks have traditionally performed before matches is in fact a celebratory dance, rather than a peruperu (challenging/war dance). Nevertheless, the unfamiliarity overseas and among some New Zealanders with the facial and vocal expressions common in a haka mean people from overseas often find a haka intimidating. Ka Mate, the haka usually performed by the All Blacks, has seen some controversy due to copyright claims by the iwi from whom it originated. However, origins aside, it is a glorious thing to behold.
New Zealand set itself up proper thanks to farming (especially exporting meat overseas once refrigeration got going), hence why sheep also have Kiwiana status. The old saying goes that there are 20 sheep to every New Zealander, although this figure hasn't been accurate since the mid 1980s — changing economic conditions and increased immigration means there are now only 5 sheep to every New Zealander. As a consequence of this and the prevalence of sheep farming in Australia as well, good-natured ribbing about bestiality occurs in both countries.
New Zealand for some reason is frequently omitted from maps. An example of this is during Star Trek: First Contact where Picard is in orbit on his ship, and points out Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, but New Zealand is absent. In fairness, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands actually are located significantly closer to Australia than New Zealand is. There's actually upward of 1,700 kilometers of ocean between New Zealand and Australia, which is precisely why it took so long for the first humans to arrive in New Zealand. The two nations are quite a lot closer culturally and politically than they are geographically.
New Zealand in fiction
- Aces Go Places IV, aka Mad Mission 4: You Never Die Twice
- Bad Taste
- Black Sheep (2007)
- Boy (2010)
- Eagle Vs Shark
- Goodbye Pork Pie (and its remake, Pork Pie)
- Heavenly Creatures
- Hunt for the Wilderpeople
- Once Were Warriors
- Out of the Blue
- The Piano
- The Quiet Earth
- Race for the Yankee Zephyr
- Sione's Wedding
- Sleeping Dogs (1977 movie)
- Whale Rider
- What We Do in the Shadows
- The Bone People by Keri Hulme
- Digital Magic by Philippa Ballantine
- The New Zealand Wars Trilogy by James Belich
- Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
- Weather Child by Philippa Ballantine
- The Almighty Johnsons
- The Brokenwood Mysteries
- Flight of the Conchords (not technically shot in New Zealand but pretty much about it)
- Gliding On, arguably the nation's most notable Work Com
- Go Girls
- Outrageous Fortune, and its prequel West Side
- Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby
- Shortland Street
- Top of the Lake
- The Tribe
- Underbelly NZ: Land of the Long Green Cloud
- Wellington Paranormal
- Worzel Gummidge Down Under
- Amanda Palmer, after writing "Map Of Tasmania," was asked by a Kiwi fan "where's our fucking song?" This is what she came up with. She has been mostly resident in NZ since the COVID pandemic.
- The final track on Midnight Oil's 1984 album Red Sails in the Sunset is titled "Shipyards of New Zealand".
- Civilization VI: The Gathering Storm expansion pack features the Maori faction with Kupe as leader.
- The NewZealand Story (although very loosely, apart from the place names)
- Street Fighter 5 features a level somewhere in the Southern Alps, complete with wandering sheep and takahe.
- Team Fortress 2 webcomic "Blood in the Water": In this case New Zealand is sunk to the bottom of the ocean and kept in a glass dome. Then the Sniper's biological parents broke the dome while sending him into space, but instead he ended up in Australia.
- Umurangi Generation
- New Zealand is a character in Hetalia: Axis Powers
- The Barefoot Bandits
- Bro'Town. New Zealand's first prime time animated show.
- Rocket Power features a TV-movie that's set in a big athletic event in New Zealand.
- Sparkle Friends
- Freelance Animators New Zealand, a studio in Auckland, did a number of episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and Taz-Mania. They also helped out on some stuff for Walt Disney Animation Australia as well.
- WETA has spearheaded NZ's digital special effects industry, particularly with The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- The The Wild Thornberrys episodes "Hot Air" and "Look Who's Squawking" featured the title characters visiting Rotorua and McMurdo Station respectively.
Shout Outs in foreign media
New Zealand's remoteness and relative obscurity has led to some amusing pride amongst its citizens, whenever it gets mentioned in major Hollywood productions:
- Mysterious Island:
Captain, any idea where we are?
That wind must have taken us thousands of miles.-Fiji, maybe.-Or New Zealand. Anywhere.
- Ice Station Zebra: New Zealand is mentioned twice in passing:
Vaslov: Then from McMurdo Sound to Christchurch, New Zealand... and all by Navy plane.Jones: There are scientific expeditions there... from the United States, Great Britain, Netherlands, Chile... France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa...
- The Swarm:
Dr Crane: If you can't perfect it, we might just as well pack it in right away... and ship out to New Zealand.
- No Way Out (1987), directed by NZ's own Roger Donaldson, featured a Māori dance performance at a state dinner.
- Point Break: Near the end, Patrick Swayze's character exclaims, "Hell, I'm not gonna paddle to New Zealand!"
- Full House: In the episode "Come Fly With Me", a major plot point features Michelle and Stephanie accidentally getting on a flight to Auckland, when they actually meant to fly to Oakland.
- GoldenEye (directed by New Zealand-born Martin Campbell):
Natalya Simonova: It's a duplicate of Severnaya, like those secret transmitters in New Zealand.
CIA Agent Jack Wade: I've never been to New Zealand.
Neil McCauley: You met me, take off with me for a while.
Eady: Where are we going?
Neil McCauley: New Zealand.
Neil McCauley: I have to separately but you'll meet me there.
- The Man Who Sued God: (written by NZ-born comedian John Clarke)
Steve: I'm just a tourist from New Zealand.
- This TV advert for Steinlager Pure beer featuring Willem Dafoe. And others like it.
- Metal Gear Rising:
Boris: And what of your wife and son?
Raiden: They're in New Zealand. Safe.
- Hitman 2: A tutorial level is purportedly set in a Hawkes Bay beach house. And one of the collectable weapons is a "Maori paddle".
- C14 Dating: Deandre, the rugby player among the love interests, did a lot of his training in New Zealand. This results in his English being Separated by a Common Language to the other speakers around him, as they all speak variations of English from the Northern Hemisphere. He's even prone to using "Sweet as" because of this.
New Zealand has produced several famous actors, musicians, and others, but since it's also a fairly small country, many famous Kiwis move away when they make it big, either to Australia, the UK, or the United States.
- Alien Weaponry
- Jack Bauer (Not the pressed-for-time counter-terrorist agent of 24, he's a cyclist.)
- Zoë Bell
- Gina Bellman of Leverage and Coupling fame
- Jane Campion, the second woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director (also the first female director to be nominated for Best Director twice in which she won the second time in 2021 for The Power of the Dog), and the first to win the Palme d'Or
- Keisha Castle-Hughes
- Strictly Come Dancing dancer Brendan Cole (Born in Christchurch, based in the UK)
- Singer Rikki Lee-Coulter (Born in Auckland, Based in Sydney)
- Russell Crowe (born in NZ, moved to Australia, now the Kiwis aren't sure whether they want him back)
- YouTube star Jamie Curry (best known for Jamie's World)
- Shaanxo (another New Zealand YouTube star best known for her beauty and make up tutorials)
- Richard Curtis (Best known for his series Black Adder, Not the Nine O'Clock News, Spitting Image and Mr. Bean. Not to mention Four Weddings and a Funeral Notting Hill, Love Actually and most of the Bridget Jones films...)
- /Alan Dale
- Rhys Darby, stand-up comedian and actor
- Neil and Tim Finn, founding members of Split Enz and Crowded House
- NXT superstar Dakota Kai
- NXT UK superstar Toni Storm (although born in Auckland, she was raised in Australia)
- Flight of the Conchords
- Sir Edmund Hillary — first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest (currently residing on the back of the five dollar note)
- Hayley Westenra
- Kate Sheppard — an advocate for women's suffrage who made it possible for women to vote in New Zealand (currently residing on the back of the ten dollar note)
- Peter Jackson
- Billy T. James
- Rising music star Stella Bennett (aka by her stage name Benee)
- Kimbra Johnson, better known simply as Kimbra
- Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race.
- Lydia Ko (born in South Korea but raised from infancy in NZ), golf star who was the top-ranked women's professional twice before leaving her teens
- Lucy Lawless
- Melanie Lynskey
- Māori pro wrestler Mana The Polynesian Warrior
- Temuera Morrison
- Sam Neill
- Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor, better known by her stage name of Lorde
- Pat O'Connor, who simultaneously held the the National Wrestling Alliance and American Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Titles during the territorial era.
- Anna Paquin: Born in Canada, lived in New Zealand from ages 4 to 13 and currently living in the USA. She has identified herself as a New Zealander occasionally in the past.
- Keith Park
- Ernest Rutherford — the "father of nuclear physics".
- Pamela Stephenson (Born in Auckland, Based in the UK)
- Charles Upham
- Antony Starr
- Karl Urban
- Keith Urban — was born in New Zealand but moved to Australia and is more associated with the latter, and has spent most of his career in the States
- Taika Waititi, the first Polynesian to win an Oscar (won for Best Adapted Screenplay with Jojo Rabbit).
- Thomasin McKenzie
- Stan Walker
- Current NJPW star Jay White
- William DuFresne
- Pro wrestling tag team The Sheepherders/The Bushwhackers
- Political satirist John Clarke, who worked/lived in Australia from 1979, but first became famous for his character Fred Dagg, an Affectionate Parody of New Zealand sheep farmers. Also wrote and produced The Games for Australian tv.
- Rosé of BLACKPINK — born in Auckland but has mostly lived in South Korea
- Rose McIver
- Too many rugby players to count or list
- Pop/rap band OMC (Otara Millionaires Club), best known for their 1995 international hit song "How Bizarre"note
Films/series shot in New Zealand
As New Zealand has a similar climate to Great Britain or the Pacific North West of North America, but with less development and some really dramatic landforms (due to being a relatively young landmass geologically), it is becoming increasingly popular to shoot films there. A certain multi-million dollar franchise that did so didn't hurt either.
- Battle Truck aka. Warlords of the 21st Century
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- Cowboy Bebop
- The Frighteners
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
- Power Rangers (from Ninja Storm onwards; Disney, who had the series forced on them against their wishes when they acquired the channel later known as Freeform, moved production to NZ from Los Angeles so as to spend minimal money on it and this stuck when Saban reacquired it. Funnily enough the series was banned in NZ at the time because it was too violent.)
- Regular Car Reviews: This distinctly Pennsylvanian car enthusiast web series shot Season 20 (in 2018) in NZ to explore the delightful cars of the Antipodes. Since the series creators absolutely adore New Zealand (and Australian) culture (car and otherwise), they were happy to refer to NZ as "the planet's bonus track." They also closed the NZ season with a car review of a sheep.
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand
- The Tribe
- Xena: Warrior Princess
The New Zealand flag
The New Zealand national anthem
- Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The British monarch appoints the Governor-General. New Zealand has a Westminster-style parliamentary system, like the UK.
- Monarch: Charles III (from the UK)
- Governor General: Cindy Kiro
- Prime Minister: Chris Hipkins
- New Zealanders do not directly elect the Prime Minister; rather, New Zealanders vote for a Member of Parliament (MP) in their area. The political party that elects the most MPs is then asked by the Governor-General to form the government. The leader and deputy leader of this political party then becomes the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively.
- Capital: Wellington
- Largest city: Auckland
- Population: 5,126,750
- Area: 268,021 km² (103,483 sq mi) (75th)
- Currency: New Zealand dollar ($) (NZD)
- ISO-3166-1 Code: NZ
- Country calling code: 64
- Highest point: Aoraki/Mount Cook (3724 m/12,218 ft) (45th)
- Lowest point: Momona (−2 m/−7 ft) (37th)