New Zealand

About New Zealand

Political system, law and government
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National Institutions
Governor General of New Zealand
New Zealand Government
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Department of Conservation
Department of Corrections
Department for Courts
Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Economic Development
Ministry of Education
Ministry for the Environment
Ministry of Fisheries
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Housing
Inland Revenue Department (IRD) Department of Internal Affairs
Ministry of Justice
Department of Labour
Crown Law Office
Ministry of Maori Development
Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
Ministry of Research, Science and Technology
New Zealand Treasury
Ministry of Women's Affairs
Ministry of Youth Affairs
New Zealand Police
Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA)
Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA)
National Rural Fire Authority (NRFA)
Health Funding Authority (HFA)
Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA)
Maori Broadcasting Funding Agency
New Zealand Customs Service Statistics New Zealand
Antarctica New Zealand
New Zealand Trade Development Board (TRADENZ) New Zealand Tourism Board (NZTB)
State Services Commission
Overseas Investment Commission

Securities Commission
Law Commission
Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC)
Hillary Commission for Sport, Fitness and Leisure
Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC)
Human Rights Commission (HRC)
Electoral Commission
Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ)
Television New Zealand (TVNZ)
Radio New Zealand International (RNZI)
Political Parties
Labour Party
National Party
ACT New Zealand
Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
New Zealand

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP)
Future New Zealand
United New Zealand
Communist Party of Aotearoa

Natural Law Party of New Zealand
New Zealand Commonsense Party
New Zealand -- Geography --

Official Name: New Zealand
Capital City: Wellington
Languages: English (official), Maori (official), Sign Language (official)
Official Currency: New Zealand dollar
Religions: Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, others
Population: 4 173 460 (2008)
Land Area: 268 680 sq km
Landforms: Predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains
Land Divisions: 16 regions

New Zealand -- History --

The history of New Zealand dates back at least 700 years to when it was discovered and settled by Polynesians, who developed a distinct Maori culture centred on kinship links and land. The first European explorer came to New Zealand in 1642. From the late 18th century, the country was regularly visited by explorers and other sailors, missionaries, traders and adventurers. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and various Maori chiefs, bringing New Zealand into the British Empire and giving Maori equal rights with British citizens. There was extensive European and some Asian settlement throughout the rest of the century. War and the imposition of an European economic and legal system led to most of New Zealand's land passing from Maori to Pakeha (European) ownership, and most Maori subsequently became impoverished.
From the 1890s the New Zealand parliament enacted a number of progressive initiatives, including women's suffrage and old age pensions. From the 1930s the economy was highly regulated and an extensive welfare state was developed. Meanwhile, Maori culture underwent a renaissance, and from the 1950s Maori began moving to the cities in large numbers. This led to the development of a Maori protest movement which in turn led to greater recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi in the late twentieth century. In the 1980s the economy was largely deregulated and a number of socially liberal policies, such as decriminalisation of homosexuality, were put in place. Foreign policy, which had previously consisted mostly of following Britain or the United States, became more independent. Subsequent governments have generally maintained these policies, although tempering the free market ethos somewhat.

New Zealand -- Economy --

New Zealand has a modern, prosperous, developed economy with an estimated nominal Gross domestic product (GDP) of US$128.1 billion (2008). The country has a relatively high standard of living with an estimated GDP per capita of US$30,234 in 2008, comparable to Southern Europe, e.g. Spain US$33,385, but lower than the United States at US$46,820. Since 2000 New Zealand has made substantial gains in median household income. New Zealand, along with Australia, largely escaped the early 2000s recession that affected most other Western countries.
New Zealand is a country heavily dependent on free trade, particularly in agricultural products. Exports account for around 24% of its output,] which is a relatively high figure (it is around 50% for many smaller European countries). This makes New Zealand particularly vulnerable to international commodity prices and global economic slowdowns. Its principal export industries are agriculture, horticulture, fishing and forestry. These make up about half of the country's exports. Its major export partners are Australia 20.5%, US 13.1%, Japan 10.3%, China 5.4%, UK 4.9% (2006). Tourism plays a significant role in New Zealand's economy. Tourism contributes $12.8 billion (or 8.9%) to New Zealandís total GDP and supports nearly 200,000 full-time equivalent jobs (9.9% of the total workforce in New Zealand). Tourists to New Zealand are expected to increase at a rate of 4% annually up to 2013.

New Zealand -- Culture --

The culture of New Zealand is a synthesis of home-grown and imported cultures. The country's earliest inhabitants brought with them customs and language from Polynesia and developed their own Maori and Moriori cultures. British colonists in the nineteenth century brought their culture and had a dramatic effect on the indigenous inhabitants, spreading their religious traditions and the English language. Maori culture also influenced the colonists and a distinctive Pakeha or New Zealand European culture has evolved. More recent immigration from the Pacific, East Asia and South Asia has also added to the cultural melting-pot.
There is debate about the characteristics of a Pakeha ethnic group as many of the cultural traits associated with New Zealand Europeans can also be found in the cultural traditions of other English-speaking Western nations, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Canada and the United States. Both Maori and Pakeha have adopted and adapted cultural forms from other countries creating recognisably New Zealand versions. New Zealand hip-hop, popular particularly in urban Maori and Pacific Island communities is a prominent example of this phenomenon.

New Zealand -- Political system, law and government --

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Although it has no codified constitution, the Constitution Act 1986 is the principal formal statement of New Zealand's constitutional structure. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and is titled Queen of New Zealand under the Royal Titles Act 1974. She is represented by the Governor-General, whom she appoints on the exclusive advice of the Prime Minister. The current Governor-General is Anand Satyanand.
The Governor-General exercises the Crown's prerogative powers, such as the power to appoint and dismiss ministers and to dissolve Parliament, and in rare situations, the reserve powers. The Governor-General also chairs the Executive Council, which is a formal committee consisting of all ministers of the Crown. Members of the Executive Council are required to be Members of Parliament, and most are also in Cabinet. Cabinet is the most senior policy-making body and is led by the Prime Minister, who is also, by convention, the Parliamentary leader of the governing party or coalition. The current Prime Minister is Helen Clark, the leader of the Labour Party.
The New Zealand Parliament has only one chamber, the House of Representatives, which usually seats 120 Members of Parliament. Parliamentary general elections are held every three years under a form of proportional representation called Mixed Member Proportional. The 2005 General Election created an 'overhang' of one extra seat, occupied by the Maori Party, due to that party winning more seats in electorates than the number of seats its proportion of the party vote would have given it.
The highest court in New Zealand is the Supreme Court of New Zealand, established in 2004 following the passage of the Supreme Court Act 2003. The act abolished the option to appeal to the Privy Council in London. The current Chief Justice is Dame Sian Elias. New Zealand's judiciary also includes the Court of Appeal; the High Court, which deals with serious criminal offences and civil matters at the trial level and with appeals from lower courts and tribunals; and subordinate courts.

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