|Recognised national languages||English[n 2]|
|Government||Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
(House of Representatives)
|Stages of independence |
from the United Kingdom
|7 May 1856|
|26 September 1907|
25 November 1947
|268,021 km2 (103,483 sq mi) (75th)|
• Water (%)
• May 2021 estimate
• 2018 census
|19.0/km2 (49.2/sq mi) (167th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
|Gini (2019)|| 33.9|
|HDI (2019)|| 0.931|
very high · 14th
|Currency||New Zealand dollar ($) (NZD)|
|Time zone||UTC+12 (NZST[n 5])|
• Summer (DST)
|UTC+13 (NZDT[n 6])|
|ISO 3166 code||NZ|
New Zealand (Māori: Aotearoa [aɔˈtɛaɾɔa]) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu)—and more than 700 smaller islands, covering a total area of 268,021 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi). New Zealand is about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the islands of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. The country's varied topography and sharp mountain peaks, including the Southern Alps, owe much to tectonic uplift and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, and its most populous city is Auckland.
Owing to their remoteness, the islands of New Zealand were the last large habitable lands to be settled by humans. Between about 1280 and 1350, Polynesians began to settle in the islands and then developed a distinctive Māori culture. In 1642, the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands. In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire, and in 1907 it became a dominion; it gained full statutory independence in 1947, and the British monarch remained the head of state. Today, the majority of New Zealand's population of 5 million is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Reflecting this, New Zealand's culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration. The official languages are English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language, with English being dominant.
A developed country, New Zealand ranks highly in international comparisons, particularly in education, protection of civil liberties, government transparency, and economic freedom. It underwent major economic changes during the 1980s, which transformed it from a protectionist to a liberalised free-trade economy. The service sector dominates the national economy, followed by the industrial sector, and agriculture; international tourism is a significant source of revenue. Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the prime minister, currently Jacinda Ardern. Queen Elizabeth II is the country's monarch and is represented by a governor-general, currently Dame Patsy Reddy. In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes. The Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing states in free association with New Zealand); and the Ross Dependency, which is New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica.
New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ASEAN Plus Six, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum.
The first European visitor to New Zealand, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, named the islands Staten Land, believing they were part of the Staten Landt that Jacob Le Maire had sighted off the southern end of South America. Hendrik Brouwer proved that the South American land was a small island in 1643, and Dutch cartographers subsequently renamed Tasman's discovery Nova Zeelandia from Latin, after the Dutch province of Zeeland. This name was later anglicised to New Zealand. It has no relationship to Zealand in Denmark.
This was written as Nu Tireni in the Māori language. In 1834 a document written in Māori and entitled "He Wakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni" was translated into English and became the Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand. It was prepared by Te W(h)akaminenga o Nga Rangatiratanga o Nga Hapu o Nu Tireni, the United Tribes of New Zealand, and a copy was sent to King William IV who had already acknowledged the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, and who recognised the declaration in a letter from Lord Glenelg.
Aotearoa (pronounced [aɔˈtɛaɾɔa] in Māori and // in English; often translated as 'land of the long white cloud') is the current Māori name for New Zealand. It is unknown whether Māori had a name for the whole country before the arrival of Europeans; Aotearoa originally referred to just the North Island. Māori had several traditional names for the two main islands, including Te Ika-a-Māui ('the fish of Māui') for the North Island and Te Waipounamu ('the waters of greenstone') or Te Waka o Aoraki ('the canoe of Aoraki') for the South Island. Early European maps labelled the islands North (North Island), Middle (South Island) and South (Stewart Island / Rakiura). In 1830, mapmakers began to use "North" and "South" on their maps to distinguish the two largest islands, and by 1907 this was the accepted norm. The New Zealand Geographic Board discovered in 2009 that the names of the North Island and South Island had never been formalised, and names and alternative names were formalised in 2013. This set the names as North Island or Te Ika-a-Māui, and South Island or Te Waipounamu. For each island, either its English or Māori name can be used, or both can be used together.