Sunday, May 8, 2016

New Zealand

New Zealand is a county in the southwestern Pacific Ocean (Oceania) consisting of the North Island, the South Island and a number of smaller islands.  The country is home to about 4,7 million people which is about the size of Colorado.  Wellington is the country's capital while Auckland is its largest city.

New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere and far away from everything.  New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga are the closest countries at they are about 1000 km (600 miles) north.  The east coast of Australia is about 1500 km (900 miles) which is a 3,5 hour flight.  It's a good 10 hour flight from Singapore or Hong Kong.  Brno is a whopping 18,076 km (11,232 miles) away!

Due to being so remote it was one of the last places to be settled by people.  The Polynesian Māori arrived in around 800 AD.  The Māori refer to New Zealand as Aotearoa.  A Dutch explorer was the first European to "discover" it in 1642.  The Treaty of Waitangi between the UK and the Māori chieftains in 1840 ceded sovereignty to the British Crown while maintaining territorial rights.  There were a number of land wars between 1843 and 1872 which resulted in Māori defeat and New Zealand became a British colony.  New Zealand became independent in 1907.

New Zealand is a parliamentary democracy, led by the Prime Minister, under a constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II as the Queen and head of state.  A governor-general represents the Crown.  The Realm of New Zealand includes the dependent territory of Tokelau, and the self-governing states in free association Niue and the Cook Islands.  The Ross Dependency is the country's territorial claim in Antarctica.

New Zealanders are called "Kiwis" and there's a Kiwi on the New Zealand Dollar.

There was recent referendum on changing the flag but in the end it the current flag was retained.

Māori alphabet
The country sits in the so-called Ring of Fire and there are about 14,000 earthquakes per year but only 150 to 200 are big enough to be felt.

The country has three official languages with English predominant.  Māori became official in 1987 and is spoken by about 3,5% of the people.  New Zealand Sign Language became official in 2006 and is used by about 20,000 people.

The Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement allows for Australians and Kiwis to freely live and work in the other country.  Even though Australians tend to make fun of the Kiwi accent which is funny because most people have a very difficult time distinguishing between the two.

The country is quite progressive.  It was the first self-governing country in the world to let women vote.  Same-sex marriage was legalised in 2013.

I'm looking forward to my first visit to New Zealand in November.  It will be great to get some time with my favourite Kiwi.  Claudia wanted me to take Nat some medovník but there's no way to take Czech honey cake.  New Zealand is very protective of its environment and it's illegal to bring in any honey products.  Apparently if your hiking boots are dirty when you get to immigration, the airport will clean them for you before allowing them in to the country.  The country has maintained a nuclear-free zone since 1987.

I need to remember to pick up some electrical adapters because they use different plugs in Australia and New Zealand.  The plugs look like American plugs but tilted at an angle.  It seems that Kiwi outlets have those same on/off toggles like in the UK.

Here are a couple of videos I found out on YouTube about New Zealand and the Māori.
©Seeker Daily
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