Destination information New Zealand

The history

Historically, New Zealand is a young country. Uninhabited during millions of years, until the arrival of the first Maori. According to legends, they came a thousand years ago in their catamarans and canoes from Hawaiki, an island in French Polynesia. The story goes that Kupe, a great Maori navigator, led his people  across the Pacific to Aotearoa (New Zealand), which means "the land of the big white cloud". It was in 1642 that the Dutchman Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand. He was on his way to Batavia in command of the VOC. He anchored his ship on the West Coast of the Southern Island, but didn't get a friendly receive from the Maoris. Several members of his crew were slain. In 1769, Captain James Cook set foot ashore and claimed the area for England. Hereafter, European traders and whalers regularly visited New Zealand, most of the time because of seal hunting. Gradually, more and more British visitors came to New Zealand. The first missionary arrived in 1814: Samuel Marsden. James Busby became the first governor in 1831. Between 1839 and 1843, a large-scale immigration from England started. Partly due to the disagreement with the Maoris it became necessary to set up some pacts. 

In 1840 William Hobson signed the 'Treaty of Waitangi' on behalf of Queen Victoria, after which New Zealand officially became a British colony. Hobson had played the Maori Chiefs off against each other. They had no choice but to accept the offer he made: in theory, the English and Maori were given equal rights in the Treaty of Waitangi, but in practice the British people dominated. A huge flow of settlers followed. The British bought land on a large scale from the Maori. In 1840 Auckland became the capital. The settlers founded the cities Wellington, New Plymouth, Nelson, Dunedin and Christchurch. In 1852, New Zealand gained a large degree of self-government. In 1865, Wellington became the capital of New Zealand. In the late 1800’s, the export of dairy, wool and lamb grow rapidly. This dramatically increased the prosperity, and New Zealand became one of the richest countries in the world. 

 

  • Destination information New Zealand

The climate

New Zealand mainly has a temperate climate. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C (14°F) in winter. Most of the country is located close to the coast, which means mild temperatures. The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC (70-90°F) and in winter between 10-15ºC (50-60°F). 

The culture

There are two official languages known in New Zealand; English and Maori. The amount of people how can speak the Maori language is reducing, but there are national tv stations that exclusively broadcast shows in the Maori language. 

A funny fact: The Guinness Book of Records lists the Maori language with the longest, geographical designation name in the world (Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, the name of a hill in the North Island).

About 15% of the total population of New Zealand is Maori. Maori live in tribes and their tribes are called 'iwi'. When you visit New Zealand you have great opportunities to learn more about this culture on the Northern Island near Rotorua. A lot of Maori shows and traditional dances, are performed around this area. You are also able to taste some pure Maori ´Hangi´ food. The Hangi meals are prepared underground, covered with hot stones which are used to steam the meals. The Maori culture is very important and you will face bits and pieces everywhere you go in New Zealand.

Kiwi is a name given to the New Zealand population and they are quite proud of it. The name is originally given to the indigenous bird, but also a kind of fruit is named Kiwi. When you are in New Zealand you will hear this name a lot and when you are somewhere else in the world, this word will be associated with New Zealand.

The film industry is becoming a bigger part of the New Zealand Culture. This is because the famous trilogy of The Lord of the Rings has been filmed and produced there. There are many travellers who would like to visit the scenery where these great movie were filmed. 

Just like the Ozzies, the kiwis have a lot of humor. They are laid back and relaxed. In the language you can find examples of this characteristic, since they have their own dialect and simply leave words out of sentences. 
"G'day mate, how ya goin'? Listen, tonight we have a barbie. Just call in and bring a couple of blokes and Sheilas and BYO. Stubbies will do! If you're lucky, there's gonna be a few Pommies and Ozzies as well. So you're coming? C-ya!"

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