Top 50 interesting facts about New Zealand and Maori
New Zealand is an island country in the south-west Pacific Ocean that shares many similarities with its neighbours. But at the same time, it is a unique country with its own customs, history and culture. In our article, we have collected 50 fascinating facts about this country and its inhabitants, which will help to form a first impression and interestingly plan your holiday in New Zealand.
50 most amazing facts about Maori and New Zealand
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
1. The islands of New Zealand were settled by man very late, even in comparison with neighbouring countries. Only in the beginning of XIII century, Polynesians came here.
2. The Polynesian tribes were divided into Maori and Moriori, who feuded for a long time. As a result, the Moriori were banished to the Chatham Archipelago, and then completely exterminated.
3 Of the Europeans, the Dutch, were the first to discover New Zealand. In 1642, Abel Tasman arrived at its shores and considered the islands to be part of South America.
4. For a long time, militant Maori held back the colonisation of New Zealand until Britain forced them to sign a treaty establishing British sovereignty on 6 February 1840. This date became the Waitangi holiday.
5. In 1852, New Zealand began to assemble its own parliament, and four years later it gained self-government in matters of domestic policy.
6. In 1947 New Zealand gained full independence from Great Britain, but the British monarch remains the formal head of state.
7. New Zealand troops participated in both World Wars, the invasion of Vietnam, and NATO operations in Bosnia and US operations in the Persian Gulf.
New Zealand today
8. Modern New Zealand is the largest country in Oceania by area and the second-largest by population. Its area is 269 thousand square kilometres, and it is home to 5.1 million people.
9. The capital of the country is the city of Wellington, founded in 1839. It is the second most populous city of the country with 350 thousand people. It is located on the shores of the Cook Strait
10. The most populous city of the state is Auckland. It is home to 1.5 million people. Auckland was the first European settlement on the North Island, and until 1865 the capital of all of New Zealand.
11. Wellington is considered the southernmost capital city on the planet. It lies closer to the South Pole than Australia’s capital Canberra, Argentina’s Buenos Aires, and Chile’s Santiago.
12. New Zealand is the only country in the world where sign language is the official language. In addition to it, English and Maori are the official languages.
13. The blue background of the New Zealand flag symbolises the Pacific Ocean, the British flag in the upper corner symbolises the Commonwealth, and the four stars symbolise the Southern Cross constellation.
14. The country is located in two time zones at once, with one of them being a fractional time zone. Most of the state lies in the +12UTC time zone, and the Chatham Archipelago in the +12.45UTC time zone.
15. The country is divided into 16 provinces, governed by regional councils. The Chatham Islands are considered the 17th province.
16. New Zealand is now home to 5 million people, most of whom are of European descent. The indigenous Maori population is only 16 per cent.
17. New Zealand is a highly developed country, but its economy is still based on agriculture and food industry. It has one of the largest sheep populations in the world – over 40 million sheep.
18. Every year, the country is visited by 2.5 million tourists, and 10% of the able-bodied population of the state is employed in the service sector.
19. School education in the country is free and compulsory for children from 6 to 16 years of age. Pre-school education is non-governmental.
20. New Zealand is famous for both man-made and natural sights. The most unusual of them is Hobbiton, an artificially created settlement of hobbits, built for the filming of the film «The Lord of the Rings» in 1999.
21. Not far from the resort of Rotorua is Agrodome, a theme park dedicated to the lives of European settlers. Here you can see the Sheep Show and walk around the surrounding pastures.
22. The largest oceanarium in the country is located in Auckland. It is divided into 5 themed locations representing the underwater world of different ocean zones.
23. The main natural attraction of the country is Milford Fjord. It is a narrow bay that cuts into the coast of the South Island for 19 kilometres.
24. The North Island is home to the famous Waimangu Geyser Valley. The geyser of the same name was considered the largest on the planet and threw out a jet of hot water and steam to a height of more than 400 metres. But it has been dormant for 100 years.
25. The North Island is also home to the country’s longest beach. It is called Ninety Mile Beach, although it is actually just over 50 miles (90 kilometres) long.
Character and customs of New Zealanders
26. Modern New Zealanders are a fun-loving, outgoing people who are hospitable and helpful. But they also respect and remember the traditions of the Maori, the great and indomitable warriors.
27. The sociability of New Zealanders is also manifested in the fact that they spend almost all holidays in the street, among friends and neighbours, preferring such a holiday, meeting in the family circle.
28. New Zealanders inherited their love of tattoos from the Maori. At Maori, tattoos served as a symbol of military valour and feats. In today’s archipelago, tattoos are a symbol of beauty and life principles.
29. At any celebration and before sporting events, New Zealanders willingly and selflessly give themselves to the Haka dance, also of Maori heritage. It is a military dance, designed to intimidate enemies, which is now performed by the most ordinary people.
30. A curious Maori tradition, now a tribute to the past, is the greeting where New Zealanders rub their noses together. Of course, there is no place for this gesture in modern life, but at festivals it is easy to see it to-day.
31. New Zealanders are very polite people and expect the same behaviour from tourists. It is customary to say hello even to strangers, and thank the driver when getting off the bus.
32. In the past, ritual cannibalism was common among the Maori. They sacrificed and ate the meat of slain enemies to gain the help of the gods and to gain strength.
33. The country has a very reverent attitude to family values. Most New Zealanders believe that marriage is once and for all, so divorce is less common than in other countries.
34. A curious wedding custom has survived from Maori times. Newlyweds hang a rope around their necks to symbolise their close bond and the unbreakability of the marriage bond.
35. Traditional funerals in the State have also taken over from the Māori. The Maori believed that death does not mark the final passing of a person, so modern funerals in the country are devoid of drama, and guests often joke and recall funny incidents from the deceased’s life.
36. New Zealanders favour an active lifestyle and are very fond of sporting events. Rugby has long been considered the national sport. In this sport, the country’s team still holds a leading place in the world.
37. Another passion of New Zealanders is extreme sports. It was here that unusual and dangerous entertainments were invented, which magnetically attract tourists to the country: zorbing, jetboating, bang-jumping and others.
38. The geographical location and climate of the country have changed the traditions of New Year, which is very favourite in New Zealand. Instead of a fir tree here they dress up a pine tree, and instead of snow they use aerosol from cans.
39. New Zealand cuisine has adopted many features from British cuisine, but it also includes Maori culinary traditions. New Zealanders’ favourite dishes remain meat pie, barbecue, Pavlova dessert and fried Huhu worms.
Maori legends and myths
40. Before the triumph of Christianity, the Maori believed in many pagan gods and spirits, and had a developed system of myths about the creation of the world and people. The supreme gods in their pantheon were Rangi and Papa, gods of heaven and earth.
41. From the earth, the Maori gods created a woman, who was taken in marriage by Tane, the god of the forests. From their union came humans.
42. One of the main heroes of Maori myths was Maui, a demigod whose name is associated with the formation of the islands of New Zealand. The Māori believed that Maui sailed on a canoe, the South Island, and caught a huge fish that became the North Island.
43. Great importance in myths was given to the constellation Pleiades. The Maori believed that these were the eyes of the weather god, which he tore out of himself and threw into the sky. Aborigines call this constellation Matariki and celebrate its rising as the beginning of the New Year.
The nature of New Zealand
44. The South and North Islands, of which the state is mainly composed, lie on the boundary of the Indo-Australian and Pacific lithospheric plates, due to which there are frequent earthquakes and many potentially active volcanoes.
45. The relief of the islands is predominantly mountainous. There are many mountains higher than 3000 metres and volcanoes. The highest point of the South Island and the whole archipelago is Mount Cook (3724 metres). And the highest point of the North Island is Ruapehu Volcano (2797 metres).
46. Due to the latitudinal extension of the archipelago, the climate of the country varies from subtropical in the north to temperate in the south.
47. The country has 40 rivers with a length of more than 50 kilometres, the largest of which is Uaikato, and about 3 thousand lakes. The largest lake Taupo has an area of 620 square kilometres.
48. Due to the isolation of the archipelago (more than 1000 kilometres to Australia) there are many endemics among animals and plants. Among other things, the country’s symbol – the flightless kiwi bird – lives here.
49. There are a lot of parrots on the islands, among which the most beautiful and unusual are considered to be kea and kakapo.
50. Of the vegetation, the Tsiatea silver fern, an endemic species depicted on the national coat of arms, has been chosen as the national symbol of the country.
Friends! If you know more interesting facts about New Zealanders, Maori and New Zealand, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions, and many people would be happy to learn something new. We would be very grateful to you!