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Saturday 13th July
New Zealand Information - Page 2
New Zealand was originally inhabited by Maoris who migrated from Polynesia.

The first European to arrive in New Zealand was a Dutchman, Abel Tasman (1642). Over a hundred years later, in 1769, the English Captain James Cook claimed the islands for Britain.

Settlers came to hunt whales and seals, followed by traders and missionaries. In England the New Zealand Company was formed to organise planned settlements.

The early colonists came into conflict with the Maori inhabitants. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi extended British rule and set out Maori land rights. However hostilities between Maoris and settlers continued into the 1870s.

In 1852 New Zealand became self-governing. More British migrants arrived and gold was discovered in South Island in the 1860s. Thousands of prospectors from Australia and California moved to New Zealand leading to expansion in transport, industry and commerce.

The timber and wool trades were important to the development of New Zealand's economy and the introduction of refrigerated ships (1882) gave the country larger markets for its meat trade.

New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907. Ties with Britain remained strong and the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) fought with Britain in the Boer War (1899-1902), World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945).

New Zealand became fully independent after the Second World War.

Historically New Zealand's economy was agrarian, dependent on the UK market. When the UK joined the EU in 1973 New Zealand imports were restricted. The New Zealand economy needed restructuring to move towards a more industrialised economy. Today, farms are highly mechanised, industry has expanded and the service sector has a prominent role in the country's economic life. Agricultural products include wool, lamb, beef, dairy products, wheat, barley, potatoes, pulses, hops and fruits. Fish are exported.

Coal is a significant natural resource. Other resources are natural gas, iron ore, sand, gold and limestone. Industries are wood and paper products, machinery, transportation equipment, textiles and food processing.

In the service sector banking and insurance are of great importance to the economy and tourism is a major earner of foreign currency. In 2011 New Zealand was ranked 18th out of 138 in a global technology report, one place behind Australia and a place above Japan.

The 2011 earthquakes that struck Christchurch and Wellington cost the Government around NZ$8.5 billion; economic recovery was estimated to take three to six months.

Traditionally sculpture is important in Maori society and carvers (only male) highly respected. Items of everyday use were carved with intricate designs. Body art (tattoo) is also a Maori artform.

Modern sculpture by Neil Dawson can be seen in the Civic Square Wellington. Other New Zealand artists, such as the surrealist Bill Hammond, exhibit in New Zealand's art galleries. Contemporary art is well represented.

Maori stories and poems have been passed down the centuries using the oral tradition. In the late twentieth century the Maori writer Keri Hulme won Great Britain's Booker Prize (1985) for her novel about Maori life, The Bone People. Another of New Zealand's well known authors was Katharine Mansfield who wrote in the early twentieth century.

Split Enz, a famous New Zealand band, included the Finn brothers among its members. The band evolved into Crowded House, New Zealand's most successful band in the USA (Don't Dream It's Over).

At national level classical arts are represented by the New Zealand National Symphony Orchestra and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (a Maori) is New Zealand's most well known opera singer.

New Zealand is world famous for the All-Blacks rugby team. In 1987 New Zealand hosted and won the first Rugby World Cup, winning again in 2011 and 2015.

Other popular sports are football, cricket, netball, tennis, athletics and motor sports. Mountain sports include skiing and climbing.

The coastal waters of the islands provide plenty of opportunities for sailing, wind surfing, and big-game fishing.

Easter, Christmas and New Year are national holidays. Other days celebrated include Waitangi Day, (the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 established British sovereignty), ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day and Labour Day.

News from New Zealand is available from Newslink.

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