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Useful Notes / New Zealand

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See? Totally not Australia!

New Zealand: the planet's Bonus Track. Sweet as.note 

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 centre-right National Party with Christopher Luxon 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 13th century. 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 19th century.

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 '90s 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

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Strips 

    Film — Live-Action 

  • 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

    Live-Action TV 

  • 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".

    Video Games 
  • 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 V 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

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

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:

Famous Kiwis

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.

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.

See also:

The New Zealand flag
Like Australia to the west, New Zealand also adopted the "blue ensign" as its flag, featuring the Union Jack at the canton. At the fly side is their own take on Crux Australis, one of the most famous constellations in the southern hemisphere, colored red and with only the four cardinal stars (Epsilon is missing) as a distinguishing mark from the Australian version, as approved by Māori chiefs in 1834 (although it would not be legalized as the national flag until 1902). Attempts have been made to create a more distinctive New Zealand flag (it's commonly mistaken for the Australian flag), but all have failed due to lack of any agreement on which flag to use.

The New Zealand national anthem

God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific's triple star
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.

Men of every creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our free land.
From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our state,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.

Peace, not war, shall be our boast,
But, should foes assail our coast,
Make us then a mighty host,
God defend our free land.
Lord of battles in Thy might,
Put our enemies to flight,
Let our cause be just and right,
God defend New Zealand.

Let our love for Thee increase,
May Thy blessings never cease,
Give us plenty, give us peace,
God defend our free land.
From dishonour and from shame,
Guard our country's spotless name,
Crown her with immortal fame,
God defend New Zealand.

May our mountains ever be
Freedom's ramparts on the sea,
Make us faithful unto Thee,
God defend our free land.
Guide her in the nations' van,
Preaching love and truth to man,
Working out Thy glorious plan,
God defend New Zealand.

E Ihowā Atua,
O ngā iwi mātou rā
Āta whakarangona;
Me aroha noa
Kia hua ko te pai;
Kia tau tō atawhai;
Manaakitia mai

Ōna mano tāngata
Kiri whero, kiri mā,
Iwi Māori, Pākehā,
Rūpeke katoa,
Nei ka tono ko ngā hē
Māu e whakaahu kē,
Kia ora mārire

Tōna mana kia tū!
Tōna kaha kia ū;
Tōna rongo hei pakū
Ki te ao katoa
Aua rawa ngā whawhai
Ngā tutū e tata mai;
Kia tupu nui ai

Waiho tona takiwā
Ko te ao mārama;
Kia whiti tōna rā
Taiāwhio noa.
Ko te hae me te ngangau
Meinga kia kore kau;
Waiho i te rongo mau

Tōna pai me toitū
Tika rawa, pono pū;
Tōna noho, tāna tū;
Iwi nō Ihowā.
Kaua mōna whakamā;
Kia hau te ingoa;
Kia tū hei tauira;

O Lord, God,
Of all people
Listen to us,
Cherish us
May good flourish,
May your blessings flow
Defend Aotearoa

Let all people,
Red skin, white skin
Māori, Pākehā
Gather before you
May all our wrongs, we pray,
Be forgiven
So that we might say long live

May it be forever prestigious,
May it go from strength to strength,
May its fame spread far and wide,
Let not strife
Nor dissension ensue,
May it ever be great

Let its territory
Be ever enlightened
Throughout the land
Let envy and dissension
Be dispelled,
Let peace reign
Over Aotearoa

Let its good features endure,
Let righteousness and honesty prevail
Among the people of God
Let it never be ashamed,
But rather, let its name be known
Thereby becoming the model to emulate

  • 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: Christopher Luxon
      • 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 km
(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)


Video Example(s):


God Defend New Zealand

God Defend New Zealand is the national anthem of New Zealand.

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