ozoic Era.This landmass gradually eroded until about 80 million years ago, when sea floor spreading started and the Tasmanian sea formed. However, it wasn’t until 10,000 years ago when the land formed the shape, as we now know it. The oldest rocks in New Zealand are approximately six-hundred and eighty million years old. These rocks were found on the west coast of the South Island.Although, at one point in its history, New Zealand was connected to Australia, it separated and did not share in the subsequent evolution of the marsupials associated with “down under.”New Zealand’s only indigenous mammals are two species of bats. All other mammals were introduced when the Maori arrived from Polynesia. Today New Zealand has a culture all its own due to the thousands of years it spent in isolation.
The only geographical feature New Zealand doesn’t have is live coral reef. New Zealand has all the rest: rainforest, desert, fiords, flooded valleys, gorges, plains, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, geothermics, swamps, lakes, braided rivers, peneplains,
badlands, and their very own continental plate junction. As a result of the latter, earthquakes are common, though usually not severe.
The North Island has a number of large volcanoes (including the currently
active Mount Ruapehu) and highly active thermal areas, while the South Island boasts the Southern Alps – a spine of magnificent mountains running almost its entire length. Another notable feature of New Zealand is its myriad rivers and lakes: notably the Whanganui River, Lake Taupo and the breathtaking lakes Waikaremoana and Wanaka.
New Zealand is believed to be a fragment of the ancient Southern continent of Gondwanaland which became detached over 100 million years ago allowing many ancient plants and animals to survive and evolve in isolation. As a result, most of the New Zealand flora and fauna is endemic. About 10 to 15% of the total land area of New Zealand is native flora, the bulk protected in national parks and reserves.
New Zealand has the worlds largest flightless parrot (kakapo), the only truly alpine parrot (kea), the oldest reptile (tuatara), the biggest earthworms, the largest weta, the smallest bats, some of the oldest trees, and many of the rarest birds, insects, and
plants in the world. New Zealand is home to the world famous Tuatara, a lizard-like reptile which dates back to the dinosaurs and perhaps before. Some scientists believe its more than 260 million years. The only native land mammals are two rare species of bat. New Zealand’s many endemic birds include the flightless kiwi, takahe, kakapo and weka. Far too many species of bird have become extinct since humans arrived on New Zealand included the various species of Dinornis (moa) the largest of which stood up to 2.5 meters high. There is also some unique insect life such as the Giant Weta and glow worms. Other than two spiders, there is a lack of any deadly poisonous things (snakes, spiders, etc.) which is why New Zealand Agricultural Regulations are so strict.
When the Maori arrived in New Zealand, in the tenth century, they named it Aotearoa. Aotearoa means “Land of the Long White Cloud” . As the story goes, the Maori came to Aotearoa from their homeland, the mythical Hawaiiki in three waves of migration. Anthropologists believe Hawaiiki was most likely Tahiti or Ra’itatea.According to the legend, t he first to discover Aotearoa was the ancient navigator Kupe from Ra’iatea who happened upon the islands accidentally, while in pursuit of a giant octopus.However he did not stay. Centuries later, around 1350 AD, a great migration of people from Kupe’s home land of Hawaiiki followed his navigational instructions and sailed to New Zealand, eventually supplanting or mixing with previous residents. Their culture, developed over centuries without any discernible outside influence, was hierarchical and often sanguinary. It is this third great migration which reverberates throughout Maori oral tradition. It is said that a great fleet of seven canoes with eminent Maori chiefs and warriors are the ones who populated the Islands.
In 1642, the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman briefly sailed along the west coast of New Zealand. He named it Staten Land. Nevertheless, any thoughts of a longer stay were thwarted when his attempt to land resulted in several of his crew being killed. In 1769, Captain James Cook circumnavigated the two main islands aboard the Endeavour. Initial contact with the Maoris also proved violent but Cook, impressed with the Maoris’ bravery and spirit and recognizing the potential of this newfound land, grabbed it for the British crown before setting sail for Australia. When the British began their antipodean colonizing, New Zealand was originally seen as an offshoot of Australian enterprise in whaling and sealing: in fact, from 1839 to 1841 the country was under the jurisdiction of New South Wales. However, increased European settlement soon proved problematic: a policy was urgently required regarding land deals between the settlers and the Maori.
In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi (see appendix B) was signed. The Treaty of Waitangi was designed with the Maori ceding sovereignty of their country to Britain in exchange for protection and guaranteed possession of their lands. But relations between the Maori and the European settlers soon soured. In 1860, war broke out between them, continuing for much of the decade before the Maori were defeated.
By the late nineteenth century, things had temporarily calmed down. The discovery of gold had engendered much prosperity, and wide-scale sheep farming meant New Zealand became an efficient and mostly self-reliant country. Sweeping social changes such as women’s suffrage, social security, and the encouragement of trade unions and the introduction of child care services cemented New Zealand’s reputation as a country committed to egalitarian reform.
New Zealand was given dominion status in the British Empire in 1907 and granted sovereignty by Britain in 1931; independence, however, was not formally proclaimed until 1947. The economy continued to prosper until the worldwide recession in the 1980s, when unemployment rose dramatically. Today the economy has stabilized, thanks largely to an export-driven recovery. Internationally, New Zealand was hailed during the mid-1980s for its anti-nuclear stance.
The Maori population is now increasing faster than the European settlers and a resurgence in Maoritanga, Maori culture, has had a major and lasting impact on New Zealand society. Culturally, the most heartening aspect had been the mending of relations between the Maori and The European settlers. In 1985, the Treaty of Waitangi was overhauled, leading to financial reparations to a number of Maori tribes whose land had been unjustly confiscated.However, a recent clumsy “ultimatum” attempt by the New Zealand government to offer financial reparations has resulted in an upsurge of militant Maori protests.Maoris have disrupted events, occupied land claim areas, set up roadblocks, introduced a sledgehammer to the America’s Cup and threatened to blow-up the New Zealand parliament. The disharmony has shocked New Zealanders and placed national conciliation at the top of the political agenda.
The official languages are English and Maori. English is more widely spoken, though the Maori language, for so long on the decline, is now making a comeback due to the revival of Maoritanga. A mellifluous, poetic language, the Maori language is surprisingly easy to pronounce if spoken phonetically and each word split into separate syllables. Pacific Island and Asian languages may be heard in cities.
The New Zealand economy relies mostly on the export of wool, wood and paper, textiles, dairy products, iron, and steel, to Japan, Australia, and the U.S. The GDP is approximately $17,000 U.S. per person. Highly dependent on external trade, New Zealand is currently trying to move from being a primary to a secondary producer. The New Zealand dollar is approximately $1.50 U.S. currency, with cent denominations. Coins are 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, 1 and 2 dollars. Notes are 5, 10, 20,
50, and 100 dollars.
While New Zealand does not have a unique government, the culture, people, and history, makes it a beautiful country. In the future, New Zealand will try to encourage tourism. When Mark Twain visited in 1897 and put New Zealand on the map, He wrote that he was one of the few people in the world who actually possessed the knowledge of where New Zealand was, and these, he said, ” make their living out of it!” Thus, New Zealand became a place for the wealthy to take a summer holiday. Beautiful countryside and busy, modern, cities, steep mountains and clear rivers, rainforest and deserts, make New Zealand a distinctive treasure in the Pacific Ocean.