New Zealand

New Zealand consists of two islands (North Island and South Island) and is located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 4000km or 2500miles away from Australia.

Indigenous people of New Zealand were the Maoris. Englishman Capt. James Cook was the 1st European to step in to New Zealand. This was in 1769.
In 1840 British Crown signed an agreement with the Maori Chiefs. This agreement is known as the “Treaty of Waitangi”. Today this is considered as the founding document of New Zealand.
Almost all the early settlers were from Europe and even today the largest ethnic group in New Zealand are the Europeans. Since of late more and more Asians also started migrating to New Zealand.
Today New Zealand is considered as one of the best multicultural societies around the world.
On the 2nd of April this year Reuters reported that New Zealand is ranked number one in the world, in the Social Progress Index (SPI). Australia was placed 10th in this list.

Business capital of New Zealand is Auckland. Administration capital is Wellington and most of the government offices and the parliament (which is called the Beehive) are located in Wellington. Both these cities are located in the North Island. Major city in the south Island is Christchurch.
New Zealand today is an independent nation within the British Commonwealth. The British Monarch, although constitutional head of state, plays no active role in the administration of New Zealand's government.
In the past New Zealand economy was heavily dependent on primary goods. Meat and dairy products were at the top of the export list.
New Zealand is now diversifying in to other areas and has introduced more value added industries to the economy. Some of these are Education, travel and tourism and information technology.
New Zealand people are known to be sports crazy. New Zealand sports largely reflects its British colonial heritage, with some of the most popular sports being  rugby (union) cricket and netball which are primarily played in Commonwealth countries. New Zealand is a small nation but has enjoyed success in many sports, notably rugby union (current world champions), Cricket has been played in New Zealand for over hundred years and is the country’s summer sport.
The education in New Zealand is a three-tier model which includes primary schools, followed by secondary schools (high schools) and tertiary education at universities and/or polytechnics The academic year in New Zealand varies between institutions, but generally runs from late January until mid-December for primary schools, secondary schools, and polytechnics, and from late February until mid-November for universities.
The Education Index published as part of the UN's Human Development Index consistently ranks New Zealand among the highest in the world.  In 2009 this index ranked New Zealand as the number one in the world.
UN report of countries listed by human development index ranks New Zealand as 6th in the world.
New Zealand people come from a wide range of cultures, settled down, took up citizenship and brought up New Zealand-born children. This was a major challenge to the idea of who New Zealanders were. Initiated in Canada and picked up in the 1970s in Australia, the concept of multiculturalism quickly spread to New Zealand. It was proposed that people could be legitimate members of the New Zealand nation while retaining their own language, foods and traditions. At the first New Zealand Day ceremony at Waitangi in 1974 there were ostentatious efforts to put New Zealand’s ethnic variety on display.

Asoka S. Weerasundara

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New Zealand