New Zealand (Maori Aotearoa), self-governing country in the South Pacific Ocean, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, situated southeast of Australia. It comprises two large islands—North Island and South Island—and numerous smaller islands, including Stewart Island to the south of South Island. The area of New Zealand is 270,534 sq km (104,454 sq mi). Associated with New Zealand are Ross Dependency (in Antarctica), Niue, Tokelau, and the Cook Islands (in the Pacific Ocean). The capital of the country is Wellington. Auckland is the largest city.
II LAND AND RESOURCES
Southern Alps, New Zealand The Southern Alps run virtually the entire length of South Island, New Zealand. Seventeen peaks in the mountain range exceed 10,000 ft (equivalent to 3048 m); Mount Cook, center, rises the highest at 3754 m (12,316 ft). A majority of the rivers on South Island flow from the Southern Alps. Mitre Peak, New Zealand is a mountainous country with more than 220 named mountains exceeding an elevation of 7,500 ft (2,286 m). Here, Mitre Peak rises above a tranquil Milford Sound on South Island in Fiordland National Park.
Mount Taranaki Mount Taranaki, also called Mount Egmont, is a solitary peak rising in the extreme west of North Island, New Zealand. The extinct volcano stands 2,518 m (8,261 ft) high and is one of a number of volcanoes on the island.
New Zealand is a generally mountainous country with several large regions of plains. Two-thirds of the area is between about 200 and 1,070 m (about 650 and 3,500 ft) above sea level; the country has more than 220 named mountains exceeding a height of 7,500 ft (2,300 m).
North Island has a very irregular coastline, particularly on its northern extremity. In the vicinity of the city of Auckland, the peninsula is only 10 km (6 mi) wide. The principal mountain ranges of North Island extend along the eastern side. A volcanic range in the north central region has three active volcanic peaks: Mount Ruapehu (2,797 m/9,177 ft), the highest point on the island; Mount Ngauruhoe (2,291 m/7,515 ft); and Tongariro (1,968 m/6,458 ft). Mount Taranaki (2,518 m/8,261 ft), a solitary, extinct volcanic cone, is situated near the western extremity of the island. North Island has numerous rivers, most of which rise in the eastern and central mountains. The Waikato River (425 km/264 mi long), the longest river of New Zealand, flows north out of Lake Taupo (606 sq km/234 sq mi), the largest lake in New Zealand, and empties into the Tasman Sea in the west. Numerous mineral hot springs are in the Lake Taupo district.
South Island has a more regular coastline than that of North Island; in the southwest, however, the coast is indented by deep fjords. The chief mountain range of South Island is the Southern Alps, a massive uplift extending in a southwestern to northeastern direction for almost the entire length of the island; 17 peaks in the range exceed an elevation of 10,000 ft (3,000 m). Mount Cook (3,754 m/12,316 ft), the highest point in New Zealand, rises from the center of the range, which also has a number of glaciers. Most of the rivers of South Island, including the Clutha River (336 km/209 mi long), the longest river of the island, rise in the Southern Alps. The Clutha is formed by the confluence of two branches originating, respectively, in Lake Hawea (124 sq km/48 sq mi) and Lake Wanaka (194 sq km/75 sq mi) and empties into the Pacific Ocean. The largest lake on the island is Lake Te Anau (344 sq km/133 sq mi) in the southern part of the Southern Alps. The Canterbury Plains in the east and the Southland plains in the extreme south are the only extensive lowland areas of South Island.
New Zealand lies within the Temperate Zone; the climate is generally mild, and seasonal differences are not great. The north end of the Auckland Peninsula has the warmest climate; the coldest climate occurs on the southwestern slopes of the Southern Alps. Rainfall is generally moderate to abundant and, except in a small area in the south central part of South Island, exceeds 500 mm (20 in) annually. The heaviest rainfall (about 5,600 mm/about 220 in) occurs around Milford Sound on the southwestern coast of South Island. The average high temperature at Wellington varies between 20°C (69°F) in January and 11°C (52°F) in July; the average rainfall is 1,270 mm (50 in). In Auckland, the average January and July high temperatures are 24°C (75°F) and 15°C (58°F), respectively; the annual rainfall is 1,260 mm (49 in).
The islands, which emerged late in the Tertiary period, contain a notably complete series of marine sedimentary rocks, some of which date from the early Paleozoic era. Much of the topography of New Zealand has resulted from warping and block faulting. Volcanic action also played a part in the formation of the islands, especially on North Island, where the process continues to the present time. Geysers and mineral hot springs occur in the volcanic area, and earthquakes, although usually minor, are fairly frequent here. The last major earthquake was at Edgecumbe (near the Bay of Plenty) in 1987. It caused significant damage to property and altered the landscape.
C Natural Resources
The land is the most important resource of New Zealand. It is ideal for crop farming, dairy farming, and the raising of sheep and cattle, all of which predominate in the economy. Forest products are also important. Numerous mineral deposits are found throughout the main islands, including coal, gold, pearlite, sand and gravel, limestone, bentonite, clay, dolomite, and magnesite. Large natural-gas fields are on North Island and off its southwestern coast. Deposits of uranium and thorium are believed to be present on the islands, because these minerals have been found in isolated boulders.
New Zealand plant life is remarkable in that of the 2,000 indigenous species, about 1,500 are found nowhere else in the world; examples of such unique plants are the golden kowhai and the scarlet pohutukawa. North Island has predominantly subtropical vegetation, including mangrove swamps in the north. The forest, or so-called bush, of North Island is principally evergreen with dense undergrowth of mosses and fern. Evergreen trees include the kauri, rimu, kahikatea, and totara, all of which are excellent timber trees. The only extensive area of native grassland on North Island is the central volcanic plain. The eastern part of South Island, for the most part, is grassland up to an elevation of about 1,500 m (about 5,000 ft). Most of the forest is in the west. It is made up principally of native beech and is succeeded by alpine vegetation at high elevations.
Tuatara Tuataras are the only remaining descendants of an order of ancient reptiles that lived more than 200 million years ago. The animals live on just a few small islands off the coast of New Zealand. They are nocturnal, sleeping during the day and hunting for insects, birds, or small lizards at night. Should a predator seize a tuatara’s tail, the animal can easily shed the appendage and grow a new one.Dorling Kindersley
With the exception of two species of bat, no existing mammals are indigenous in New Zealand. The first white settlers, who arrived early in the 19th century, found a type of dog and a black rat, both of which had been brought by the Maori (see the Population section below) about 500 years earlier. The only wild mammals at present are descended from deer, rabbits, goats, pigs, weasels, ferrets, and opossums—all of which were imported. No snakes and few species of insects inhabit New Zealand. The tuatara, a lizardlike reptile that emerged more than 200 million years ago, survives exclusively on a few islands off the coast of New Zealand.
New Zealand has a large population of wild birds, including 23 native species. Among the native species are songbirds, including the bellbird and tui, and flightless species, including the kiwi, kakapo, takahe, and weka. The survival of the flightless birds is attributed to the absence of predatory animals. The sparrow, blackbird, thrush, skylark, magpie, and myna are well-acclimated imported species. New Zealand abounds in a great variety of seabirds and numerous migratory birds. The moa, a giant ostrichlike bird, was widespread in New Zealand when the country was colonized by the Maori about 800 years ago. The bird was extinct or extremely rare by the late 1700s.
The rivers and lakes have a variety of native edible fish, including whitebait, eel, lamprey, and freshwater crustaceans, particularly crayfish. Trout and salmon have been imported. The surrounding ocean waters are the habitat of the snapper, flounder, blue cod, hapuku, tarakihi, swordfish, flying fish, shark, and whale, as well as edible shellfish, such as the oyster, mussel, and toheroa.
According to the 1991 census, approximately 73 percent of the population of New Zealand is of European (mainly British) descent. About 12 percent (some 430,000) are Maori, a Polynesian group, whose ancestors migrated to New Zealand about ad 1200. About 4 percent of the population is of other Polynesian descent, and various other Asian ethnicities make up the rest of the population.
A Population Characteristics
The population of New Zealand at the 1991 census was 3,434,950. The 2001 population estimate is 3,864,129, giving the country an overall population density of 14 persons per sq km (37 per sq mi). Nearly three-quarters of the population (including more than 95 percent of the Maori) reside on North Island, however. Some 87 percent of the people live in urban areas, and about half of these in the four largest cities and their environs (see the Principal Cities section below).
Since 1984 successive New Zealand governments have pursued economic policies that have transformed a strongly regulated welfare state into an open-market economy. The economy has been deregulated by the removal of subsidies, tariffs, import duties, and fiscal controls. In addition, the state has withdrawn progressively from direct involvement in production, service provision and delivery, welfare support, and manipulation of currency and financial markets. Primary production is becoming less significant as a direct contributor to export receipts and gross domestic product (GDP). Service industries, especially those associated with a booming tourist industry, are becoming much more prominent.
New Zealand is a prosperous country with a high standard of social services. The country’s GDP was $54.7 billion in 1999. Some 67 percent of the GDP derives from services, 26 percent from industry, and 7 percent from agriculture, forestry, and fishing. The national economy is largely dependent on the export of raw and processed foods, timber, and wool. Any fluctuation in world prices and demand affects the economy. In 1998 the government budget included revenues of about $18.1 billion and expenditures of $17.7 billion.
Sheep Herd, New Zealand Sheep are the most important farm animals in New Zealand. The country ranks third only to Australia and China in wool production. Here, a herd of sheep overwhelms motorists on a country road.
Modern methods and machinery are used extensively on New Zealand farms, and the productivity of the country is consequently among the highest in the world. The land is suited for dairy farming and for raising sheep and beef cattle because winter housing for livestock is unnecessary and grass grows nearly year round. Output of cereal crops, including barley, wheat, maize, and oats, was 816,000 metric tons in 2000. Other important crops were kiwi fruit, apples, pears, tobacco, potatoes, and peas. The livestock population of New Zealand included 45.7 million sheep, 9 million cattle, 186,000 goats, and 368,887 pigs. New Zealand ranks third only to Australia and China in wool production; the total in 2000 was 255,700 metric tons. As part of economic restructuring in the 1980s the New Zealand government withdrew subsidies from farmers and manufacturers processing agricultural products, contributing to a decline in the number of sheep raised on the country’s farms.
B Forestry and Fishing
Timber production in 1999 was 15.3 million cubic meters (541 million cubic feet). About one-third of the wood is used for lumber and about 25 percent for pulp; more than 90 percent of the sawn wood is pine. Most of the native forests were denuded in the early years of colonization. An extensive reforestation program has planted imported varieties of fast-growing trees such as Douglas fir instead of native New Zealand trees such as rimu and miro, most of which are slow-growing. A stand of a North American species of pine in the Kaingaroa State Forest, reputedly the largest planted forest in the world, is exploited at facilities owned and operated by private industry.
The most important freshwater and marine species taken are red cool, orange roughy, snapper, hoki, tuna, barracuda, blue whiting, crayfish, lobster, and squid. In 1997 the fish catch was 669,267 metric tons. Much of the fishing is done by motor trawlers. New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone, which guarantees offshore fishing rights, is one of the largest in the world.
In the 1970s the mineral output of New Zealand increased substantially, as newly discovered deposits of petroleum and natural gas were exploited. Output in 1999 included coal, 3.7 million metric tons; petroleum, 18.6 million barrels; and natural gas, 5.7 billion cubic meters (200 billion cubic feet). Other minerals produced in significant quantities include gold, limestone, iron ore, bentonite, silica sand, and pumice.
Food Processing Plant, New Zealand This canning plant in Hastings, New Zealand, is located in an agricultural region of North Island.
Principal manufactures in New Zealand are meat and dairy products, paper and paper products, chemicals, metal products, machinery, clothing, lumber, motor vehicles, electrical machinery, refined petroleum, and printed materials. Manufacturing employment declined significantly in the late 1980s and early 1990s following extensive restructuring of the economy, although it began to show gains in the mid-1990s. New Zealand has insufficient workers and raw materials to support much heavy industry. Auckland is the principal manufacturing center.
Waikato River Dam, New Zealand This dam on the Waikato River is one of many hydroelectric facilities in New Zealand. Hydroelectricity supplies about three-quarters of New Zealand’s energy.
Some 66 percent of New Zealand’s annual electricity is produced by hydroelectric facilities, and most of the rest is generated in plants burning natural gas, coal, or refined petroleum. In addition, underground steam on North Island is used to produce substantial amounts of electricity. Major hydroelectric facilities are on the Waikato River, on North Island, and on the Clutha and Waitaki rivers, on South Island. In 1999 New Zealand’s electricity output totaled 38 billion kilowatt-hours.
F Currency and Banking
Under the Decimal Currency Act of 1964 a system of decimal currency was introduced in New Zealand in 1967, with the New Zealand dollar as the monetary unit. The previous basic unit was the New Zealand pound. The New Zealand dollar is divided into 100 cents (NZ$1.89 equals U.S.$1; 1999 average).
In addition to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (1934), which has the sole power of issue, several commercial banks and trustee savings banks operate, as does the Post Office Savings Bank. The Post Office Savings Bank and the Bank of New Zealand, which is the largest of the commercial banks, were recently sold by the government.
G Foreign Trade
The value of exports for New Zealand in 1999 totaled $12 billion. Australia, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Germany are leading purchasers. New Zealand is the largest exporter of dairy products in the world and is second only to Australia in the export of wool. Other important exports include kiwi fruit, fish, lamb, mutton, and beef. Imports totaled $14.3 billion annually. Chief imports are manufactured goods, heavy machinery, petroleum, chemicals, iron, steel, plastic materials, and textiles. Imports come mainly from Australia, United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Taiwan, and Italy. New Zealand has few tariffs; most of the manufactured goods are imported into the country free of duty.
H Transportation and Communications
Public transport facilities are good even in remote districts. In 1999 New Zealand had 92,075 km (57,213 mi) of roads and 3,913 km (2,431 mi) of railroads. There are 481 passenger vehicles in use for every 1,000 residents. Ships provide fast daily service between North Island and South Island. The country’s principal ports are Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, and Lyttelton (near Christchurch). Air transport is widely used, with numerous airfields located throughout the country to serve private pilots. Air New Zealand is the leading airline. Communications services are now operated by private enterprise. In 1999 there were 490 telephone mainlines for every 1,000 people. New Zealand has 997 radios and 512 television sets for every 1,000 residents. Some 23 daily newspapers had a combined circulation of 804,000.
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