New Zealand: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government of the country New Zealand.



Location-1,200 mi. east of the southeast coast of Australia in the South Pacific.

How Created-The 2 major and several minor islands comprising New Zealand are the crests of a giant and unstable earth fold. The main islands are geologically quite young. The Maoris (Polynesians) arrived around 800 A.D. Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman named the country in 1642 (New Sealand). British settlement began soon after Captain Cook charted the islands in 1769-1770. Given self-government in 1852, dominion status in 1907; achieved autonomy gradually, but this was formally granted in 1931 by the Statute of Westminster, adopted in New Zealand in 1947.

Size-New Zealand proper consists of North Island (44,281 sq. mi.), South Island (58,093 sq. mi.), Stewart Island (670 sq. mi.), Chatham Island (372 sq. mi.), and many minor outlying islands. Total sq. mileage 103,736 (268,676 sq. km.). New Zealand also administers the Cook Islands, the Tokelaus, and the Ross Dependency in Antarctica (160,000 sq. mi.).

Population-Over 3 million: European (mostly British), 90.6%; Maori, 7.5%; Pacific Islanders, 1.9%. 33.7% Church of England, 21.8% Presbyterian, 15.9% Roman Catholic, 7% Methodist, 1.7% Baptist, 19.7% other religions or no religion.

Who Rules-A unicameral Parliament of 80 European and 4 Maori members. A Cabinet is formed from the majority party with one minister serving as Prime Minister. Election is for 3 years by popular vote.

Who REALLY Rules-Trade unionism is powerful. There are heavy foreign investments, but strong regulations against a foreign company's having a large degree of ownership. New Zealand's economy is extremely dependent on specialized products (wool, lamb, mutton, butter, timber), on the disposal of these products overseas, and on the maritime commerce involved.

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