Blessed to be a Blessing!
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses: the North Island and South Island, and numerous smaller islands, including Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous Māori language name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, commonly translated as ‘land of the long white cloud’. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica). The North and South Islands are separated by Cook Strait, 20 kilometres wide at its narrowest point. The total land area, 268,021 square kilometers. The population is 4.3 million and Wellington is NZ capital city.
New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation being situated about 2,000 kilometres southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea. The landscape is diverse, and spectacular with glacier-carved mountains, lakes, beaches and thermal springs. Because of the islands' geographical isolation, much of the flora and fauna is unique to the country.
The majority of New Zealand's population is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority. The most commonly spoken language is English.
New Zealand is a developed country that ranks highly in international comparisons on many topics, including lack of corruption, high educational attainment, and economic freedom. Its cities also consistently rank among the world's most liveable.
Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the country's head of state and is represented by a Governor-General, and executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet of New Zealand.
The New Zealand dollar is the nation’s currency which is also used in the Cook Islands Niue, Tokelau, and the Pitcairn Islands. It is sometimes informally known as the "Kiwi dollar".
New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major landmasses. The first known settlers were Eastern Polynesians who, according to most researchers, arrived by canoe in about AD 1250–1300. Over the following centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into tribes and subtribes which would co-operate, compete and sometimes fight with each other.
The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman (a devout Christian), and his crew in 1642. Māori killed four of the crew and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook's voyage of 1768–71. Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost the entire coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Māori timber, food, artifacts and water.
The Treaty of Waitangi, signed on 6 February 1840 between the English Captain William Hobson and about 45 Maori chiefs, established British sovereignty over the islands, whilst protecting Maori rights to their lands and natural resources. It is considered today as New Zealand's founding document and the 6th of February - Waitangi Day - has become New Zealand's national day.
In 1907 New Zealand declared itself a Dominion within the British Empire. In 1947 the country adopted the Statute of Westminster, making New Zealand a Commonwealth realm.
New Zealand, a wealthy Pacific nation dominated by two cultural groups: New Zealanders of European descent, and the minority Maori.
New Zealand has diversified its export markets and has developed strong trade links with Australia, the US, and Japan. In April 2008 it became the first Western country to sign a free trade deal with China. Agriculture is the economic mainstay, but manufacturing and tourism are important and there is a world-class film industry.
The Reverend Samuel Marsden, Chaplain to New South Wales, (1765-1838) was the driving force behind the establishment of Anglican mission stations in New Zealand in the early nineteenth century. He was born in England and based in New South Wales, and he was a member of the Church Missionary Society (CMS). His work and that of his missionaries helped build up a relationship of trust with Maori chiefs, paving the way for the acceptance of an official Crown presence in New Zealand.
NZ's first Christian service was at Oihi Beach in the Bay of Islands. Samuel Marsden preached in English to a largely Maori gathering, launching the Christian missionary phase of New Zealand history. The CMS missionaries Marsden, Kendall, John King and William Hall also arrived in New Zealand during this time of NZ evangelism.
According to the 2006 census, Christianity is the predominant religion in New Zealand, held by 55.6% of the population. Another 34.7% indicated that they had no religion, and around 4% affiliated with other religions. The main Christian denominations are Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Presbyterianism and Methodism. There are also significant numbers who identify themselves with Pentecostal and Baptist churches and with the Mormon church. The New Zealand-based Ratana church has adherents among Māori.