New Zealand is an island country in the southwest Pacific Ocean. It lies southeast of Australia. The country has two main islands, the North Island and the South Island.It also includes several smaller islands. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, and Auckland is the largest city. Both cities are on the North Island.
The North Island has many forests, hills, and mountains. It also has volcanoes and many hot springs. High, snow-capped mountains cover much of the South Island. There are some low plains near the east coast.
Two main groups of people live in New Zealand. Maori <<MAH oh ree>>, a people who were among the first to live in New Zealand, make up the smaller group. The larger group is called pakehas <<PAH kuh hahs>>. Pakeha is a Maori word meaning “pale-faced stranger.” Today the word means any non-Maori New Zealander. New Zealand has two official languages, English and Maori.
New Zealand has always tried to treat its people fairly. In 1893, it became the world’s first nation to give women the right to vote. But over the years, there have been problems between the Pakehas and Maori. Mostly, Maori feel the Pakehas have taken too much land.
Resources and products
Farming is an important part of New Zealand’s economy. New Zealand is the world’s largest producer of kiwi fruit. The nation also raises other crops and millions of sheep and cattle. The sale of butter, cheese, meat, and wool to other countries brings much money to New Zealand. Its factories make many products, including dairy goods, wool carpets, metals, machinery, and wood products.
Most of the country’s electricity comes from water power. Dams and rushing rivers help make this power.
Maori lived on what is now New Zealand for hundreds of years before Europeans arrived in 1642. Europeans began to live there in the late 1700′s. The Europeans brought great suffering to New Zealand’s Maori. Maori fought one another with European guns. Many died of sicknesses brought by the Europeans. The wars and the sickness killed about half of New Zealand’s Maori.
In 1840, the British and Maori signed the Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty gave the United Kingdom control over New Zealand. But the British and Maori soon disagreed about exactly how much power the British should have and how much power Maori could keep.
In 1907, New Zealand formed its own government. Today, it is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, a group of countries that replaced the British Empire. The British king or queen is also New Zealand’s king or queen, but a prime minister heads the government.
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