Before finding out all about New Zealand, let’s take a look around and test the knowledge you already have on the country!

New Zealand (or Aotearoa) is a beautiful island country with over 5 million residents. It consists of two main landmasses (North and South Island) as well as more than 700 smaller islands. The continent in which the country is located is Australia and the capital of New Zealand is Wellington, even though you probably know Auckland better. New Zealand has a varied topography so its never boring and you always get to know new things. You can say that New Zealand is made up of some of the worlds most spectacular landscapes (mountain, volcanoes, coastlines, etc.) and has also a great cultural offer.

15 Fun Facts that you certainly dont know all

  1. It is the first country to see the sunrise
  2. “Go save the Queen” is an official national anthem of New Zealand 
  3. First country to give woman the vote in 1893
  4. Conquered Everest and discovered the Proton
  5. Taumatawhakatangi-Hangakoauauotamatea-Pokaiwhenuakitanatahu
  6. Volcano Country
  7. Clearest Waters in the World
  8. The Insects are Big 
  9. The birds were big
  10. The dolphins are not so big
  11. A land of a lot of sheep
  12. A lot of cars 
  13. Plenty of cheese and butter to go around
  14. The Force is strong with New Zealand’s people
  15. Hobbits rule

History

This is a brief overview of New Zealand’s history.

Culture

New Zealand is known for being multicultural. Due to its history it is influenced especially by European and Maori culture.

Since the 1950s there has been a cultural renaissance in New Zealand in which artistic and social traditions have been preserved and revived. The pakeha culture (term for those of European descent ) has incorporated aspects of Maori culture.

Part of Maori culture is traditional wood carving.
The Whare Whakairo are decorated meeting houses for the Maori.
The Maori Waiata is maori music. Instruments that accompany the singing are the flute, the conch horn and the barrel.

Many migrants brought different traditions to New Zealand as well.

An example is the Chinese Lantern festival and Lunar New Year’s that is also celebrated in New Zealand.
The Indian Diwali Festival celebrated in Auckland in 2015.

Arts play a big role in New Zealand.

Creative New Zealand, the national agency for arts funding, gives annual grants in theatre, music, modern dance and ballet, opera and literature.

However, the art in New Zealand is mostly influenced by Maori, for example by wood carvings, tattooing, weaving and painting.

A Maori painting.

The food in New Zealand is influenced by the foods of immigrants. Originally it is a combination of traditional British dishes with delicacies. Fresh sea food, meat pies and Pavlova are typical in New Zealand.

Pavlova, a sweet meringue dish.

When it comes to traditions, especially the Maori traditions are common in New Zealand.

Hongi

Greeting done by pressing nose and forehead against someone else’s. It is the equivalent to a handshake, however, way more intimate.

Ta Moko

Tattoos for cultural representation of heritage, personal rank and wisdom.

Hangi

Cooking method. Food is placed on top of hot stones. The stones are buried in a pit oven underground.

Haka

An action-packed dance made by the New Zealand All Blacks. Originally, it is a traditional war dance saved for the battlefield as a display of strength and pride.

Different traditions apart from Maori traditions are also celebrated.

The Annual Cadbury

Chocolate balls (giant Jaffa balls that are unique for New Zealand) race down the world’s steepest street, Baldwin Street.

There is no specific national dress in New Zealand. Maori clothing is the only form of dress that is distinctive for New Zealand.

Kahu is a cloak worn by Maori on official occasions like royal tours and state funerals.

National dress from Europe was brought to New Zealand by migrants such as the Scottish cult. With European settlement Maori men and Maori women started wearing European clothing.

Many movies were shot in New Zealand, such as Lord of the Rings, Wolverine, The Hobbit and Maori, a movie that deals with racism and birthrights within a rural community. It is an important film about Maori and New Zealand’s history.

Here is a video that shows where Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand for those who are fans.

Here is an image slide show that contains beautiful sights in New Zealand: Bay of Islands, Tongariro National Park, Rotorua, Auckland, Napier in Hawke’s Bay and Waipoua Forest.

  • Now it is time to test your knowledge on New Zealand’s culture!

Interesting People

The current prime minister of New Zealand. She is the world’s youngest female head of government.

Singer, songwriter and founder of ‘Crowded House’, the rockband that achieved worldwide success in the 80’s and 90’s.

One of their most famous songs: ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’

Also called the father of Nuclear Physics, Rutherford won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 due to his research that led to the splitting of the atom.

Society and its challenges

Here are some of the biggest challenges in society New Zealand has to deal with:

New Zealand’s housing costs are very high and especially in Auckland unaffordable since Auckland gets the seventh place worldwide for its expensive houses. Connected with the mostly low incomes in many jobs and a gouvernment not being able to implement social housing as fast as it actually ist needed, many people live in substandarded houses that have issues like mildewed wallswalls which impair their health.

New Zealand is also popular for its high suicide rate under teenagers which is caused financial problems in their families and domestic violence but also in the insufficient possibilities to get psychological help. The number of young Maoris comitting suicide is way higher than white teenagers killing theirselves which leads to the next social issue New Zealand has to face.

Even today the Maori are discriminated and disadvantaged in society. Their culture is still more rejected than supported and when it is supported then only because of the tourists. Although there is the Waitangi Treaty from 1840 which dass that the Maori have the same rights the White have many Maori are still disadvantaged at the job market, in their education but also in the health System. This leads to a high criminal Rate and also the already mentioned high suicide rate. The number of people protesting against the discrimination of the Maori grows thought and also the gouvernment supports the Maori and tries to improve their status in society