Posted on Aug 30, 2013 |

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Kia ora!

Thank you for devoting some of your time to reading this article, I honestly appreciate it. To start off, my name is Pyone Su Aye and I am 16 years old.  I was born in Burma, and when I was a year old my family moved to Palmerston North, New Zealand. Now this place has first and foremost become, my home.  Having grown up in New Zealand nearly my entire life, I have learnt the ins and outs of both Maori and Kiwi culture. I have been brought up the good ol’ kiwi way – sitting on beaches with L&P and “fush and chups”, shearing sheep, and shouting at the screen when the All Blacks won… Well, I have done those things before but New Zealand is so much more than just our rugby, sheep and Australian-like-sounding-accent that many people make it out to be. The beauty of New Zealand lies in its diversity. From the depths of Milford Sound to award winning directors, New Zealand definitely cannot be defined by its small geographical size.



New Zealand history dates back to begin around 1200s, when Polynesians began to settle in. A Maori explorer Kupe, named the place – Aotearoa, which means ‘land of the long white cloud’. The first settlers developed an extensive Maori way of living. But in 1642, Abel Tasman, a European explorer made his mark on New Zealand and this is when Europeans first made contact. From the late 18th Century more and more Europeans began to visit, and made settlement into New Zealand. This however, caused power struggles between the two races. Maori people were also exploited. Fresh settlers traded their goods, including weaponry for Maori food, flax, wood, and sex. From 1807 to 1842, greed triggered the Musket Wars. These were several hundred battles fought among Maori in the bid to obtain firearms.


An agreement had to be made to ensure that Maori and the British had equal rights. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. This also meant that New Zealand became a colony of the British Empire. Till today, Queen Elizabeth the Second is the Head of State. During the signing, Governor Hobson had stated, “We are one people”. Nonetheless, there were still land wars as Europeans confiscated land. Maori continue to feel underprivileged, and fight for their rights as the indigenous people of the land.


Chinese Migration

In the 1870s and 1890s hundreds of Chinese people migrated to New Zealand to work on the Otago gold fields. The government took action on this by introducing the Chinese Immigrant Act in 1881, which imposed a ‘poll tax’ of £10. This poll was not repealed until 1944 after Japan had invaded China. In 2002, Prime Minster Helen Clarke offered an apology to the Chinese community for the prejudiced actions. New Zealanders can be misperceived when they employ actions that in essence are trying to preserve New Zealand lifestyles. For instance, David Shearer, leader of the Labour Party recently proposed to introduce a law that prohibits foreigners from buying New Zealand land. The media portrayed him to be ‘anti-Asian’, however, his intention was keep land in the hands of New Zealanders. And, these days many New Zealanders (residents, and citizens) have come from a huge variety of backgrounds. Sometimes, people who are thought to be racist are instead displaying faint traits of nationalists or protectionists.


1981 Springbok Tours

2On 10 May 1980, the New Zealand Rugby Union invited the Springboks to tour New Zealand. On 19 July 1981, they arrived at Auckland Airport, welcomed by crowds of angry protestors. People firmly believed that by allowing the tour to proceed, New Zealand was in a way supporting apartheid, which had been implemented into South African society since 1948. For 56 days, there was greatest eruption of violence in New Zealand. There were times where police beat protesters with batons, and flour bombs and glass thrown onto the fields. International attention was drawn to the protests. During the Hamilton game on 25 July 1981 protestors chanted, “the whole world is watching”. However, people like Nelson Mandela praised New Zealanders who were standing in solidarity for the discriminated blacks in South Africa. “It was as if the sun had come out”. Although, New Zealand is a small country, the people have big hearts. People stood up for what they believed was morally correct despite the disruptive actions taken to express those beliefs.


Bombing of the Rainbow Warrior

New Zealand has always declared themselves to be a nuclear free nation. From the mid 1960s New Zealand began protesting to stop the nuclear testing occurring on Mururoa Atoll, in the South Pacific.  On 10 July 1985, the ‘the Rainbow Warrior’ ship was moored in Auckland Harbour. It was going to set sail to protest against nuclear testing. Around midnight 2 bombs went off.  The bombing was deemed a terrorist attack, and a homicide as Fernando Pereira the photographer on board died. French intelligence services were behind the attack, so this was a test to the relationship between the New Zealand and French government. Nevertheless, New Zealand has continued to uphold its strong anti-nuclear stance.


Since explorers first discovered New Zealand, there are been many significant historical events (only a few have been mentioned in this article) that have shaped the face of our nation today. Although New Zealand history is only around 700 years old, it has allowed a distinct culture to develop, and become a place rich in traditions. We have learnt from the lessons history has to offer, and embark on endeavours that will hopefully make the history books in a positive way.



3New Zealand lies in the Southern Hemisphere, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. Neighboring countries include: ‘Across the ditch’ – Australia, Fiji, Tonga, New Caledonia, and many other Pacific Island nations. On the map, New Zealand is fairly isolated from the rest of the world, but is still heavily involved in worldwide debates. Undoubtedly, the nation is small in size with the land area only being 268,680 square km. Because of this many people consider New Zealand to be insignificant and weak but in recent times it has become a stronger, more influential power on the global stage.


New Zealand is an island country, and consists of 2 main islands: the North and South. There are also hundreds of little islands nearby. Within the nation, there are 16 regions of which some can be broken down further into smaller regions. In the north island, these include: Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu/Whanganui, and Wellington. In the south island: Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland. Out of these regions, Wellington is the capital, and Auckland is the largest and the most populated in the North. Respectively, Christchurch in the South.



The best-known statistic about New Zealand is the ratio of sheep-to-people. In 2003, New Zealand’s population hit the 4 million mark. Are there 3 sheep per person, maybe 10 or 20? In fact, there are an estimated 30 million sheep. It is true that sheep vastly outnumber the people in New Zealand, but this does not mean that you will find a sheep at every doorstep. Once upon a time there were 20 sheep to 1 person, but over the years the number of sheep declined gradually. So now to bust the myth– by the recent statistics there are 7 sheep to every person. What can I say? We have a lot of animals residing in our country.



Maori culture is woven right throughout society; more commonly seen in the form of carvings, weaving, and tattoos, as Maori people are the indigenous people of the land. But, one of the greatest parts of being from New Zealand is knowing that we are actually such a diverse country. Our national identity cannot be grouped under just one race. We are a multicultural society with many roots and traditions. However, just as much as we are multicultural, some New Zealanders and others still face a lot of problems when it comes to accepting this. There is a distorted perception that a New Zealander is “white” but in reality, when you walk along the streets you are bound to see people who have migrated from all parts of the globe. The majority of New Zealanders are of European descent but the number of other people from various ethnicities is growing. Currently, Maori people are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Polynesians. At this moment, New Zealanders are a blend of a diverse array of cultures and colors.



New Zealand is undeniably enriched with natural beauty. The countless breathtaking national parks, mountains and lakes are something we are most famous for. Nevertheless, historic sites and museums also create a cultured atmosphere for any visitor.

651. Wellington is the capital city, and is situated at the bottom of the North Island. It is the political center as it is home to the Parliament Building; better know as the ‘Beehive’. Te Papa (Our Place) is also in the heart of the city. “Te Papa Tongarewa” the Maori name, loosely translates to “the place of the treasures of this land”, and it does live up to its name as it holds many art, historical, and cultural pieces being the largest interactive museum in the country. Besides the cultural aspects, Wellington also has a vast range of shops and restaurants. There are many New Zealand designer fashion shops, small boutiques and chain store brands. The main places to shop and eat are along Lambton Quay, and Cuba Street, which are right beside each other. But to take a break from Wellington’s shopping district, take a stroll along the waterfront. Wellington is the stop, for those wanting to catch a ferry to the South Island. It only takes 3 to 4 hours to get to the other side. In 2011 Lonely Planet referred to Wellington as the “the coolest little capital in the world”. Although temperatures are moderate all year round, this city is also notoriously known for its windy weather.

72. A former capital, the most populated city, Auckland is a place that is rarely forgotten. It is home to 1.3million people, and offers many activities. However, Auckland is best known for the Sky Tower, which is the highest structure in the Southern Hemisphere at 328m. From the top, views across the city show the urbanized side of New Zealand. If you are looking for excitement, Rainbows End may be what you are looking for. Located in Manukau, it is the only theme park in the country. Like Wellington, Auckland also provides endless dining and shopping opportunities.

83. Tongariro National Park is a world heritage site that is acknowledged for both its cultural and natural significance to the country. The Tongariro Alpine crossing is thought to be the most impressive tramp that one can go on in New Zealand thus being the most popular as well. The views that would be witnessed cannot even be described without seeing the place for yourself.

4. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in the country with the surface area of 616 square km. The lake is not the only thing that attracts visitors to Taupo. There are the Huka Falls, and majestic mountains. You may have even already seen a snippet of the town since Mt Ngauruhoe featured as Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.9

105. Waitomo Caves are a magnet to both domestic and international visitors as it is a world-renowned glow-worm cave. The Arachnocampa Lumino species are glowworms that are unique to New Zealand. The tiny creatures radiate a light that creates a lovely luminous atmosphere that makes tours through the caves an unforgettable journey. The expert guides will inform you of both the historical and geological significance of these glowworms.

116. Queenstown is New Zealand’s top tourist destination, hosting more than a million tourists each year. It has been dubbed the “Adventure Capital” of New Zealand. Not many other places can compare to the beauty of this place, with its royal mountains, sparking Lake Wakatipu and alpine resorts. There is just so much you can do!  Looking for an adrenaline rush? Bungee jumping, skydiving, and skiing (only to name a few) is the way to go. Want to feel relaxed? There are spas, lake and river cruises, and air adventures. Basically there is something ideal for everyone, and every budget.

127. Milford Sound is one the most well known fiords, and rated as one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Rudyard Kipling once claimed it to be the eighth wonder of the world. It has views that are captivating that surely one would not be disappointed! Because this fiord is only accessible by road, the journey along Milford Road is a magnificent alpine drive. There is a great range of activities on offer that would appeal to both those seeking adventure or luxury e.g. Boat cruises, jet boating, diving, fishing, and many more.

138. Christchurch is known as South Island’s “Garden city”. However, in recent times, Christchurch has appeared in national and international headlines, not for its stunning sights but because of the earthquakes that struck in 2011/12. In spite of these devastating times, Christchurch is no less a city full with history and culture. Places like the Botanical Gardens, Hagley Park, and walks down the Avon River remains untouched by the shakes. About 130km out of Christchurch, is Hamner Springs. Here many enjoy relaxing in the thermal pools and visit the Hurunui District.

149. Some may say that Rotorua smells like eggs, or worse ‘farts’ but this is the smell of the geothermal activity that goes on in the region. Rotorua is well known for this, and there are several geothermal sites including, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu Volcanic Valley. There are also hot springs, opportunities to go white water rafting, and Maori villages to give you a taste of traditional New Zealand culture.

10. Only 90-minute drive out of Auckland is the Coromandel Peninsula. It is a top holiday destination with coastal scenery, white sandy shores, and green forests waiting to be explored. Many visitors have enjoyed various activities whether it is going on a bike ride, kayaking, or taking a stroll with the family.

Okay, so as you may be able to tell from the ‘places to visit’ what makes New Zealand most unique is its infinite natural beauty. People around the world know New Zealand for this, but saying that New Zealand has all but parks, mountains, rivers etc. is a bit of a misconception. There are many angles to what makes New Zealand, New Zealand. However, the pureness of the country is something we fully embrace and is most proud of.



Despite New Zealand’s small population, many great names have risen. Talents of New Zealanders lie within numerous fields, ranging from sports to science. Never underestimate this little nation as we have accomplished milestones that have shaped the face of world history and strengthened New Zealand’s reputation on the world stage.


– Kate Sheppard is a historic icon who led the suffragist movement in New Zealand to success. On 19 September 1893, governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law that meant that New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant the right to vote to women. Gaining voting rights for other women around the world would still be a long and difficult struggle. Sheppard served as inspiration and provided hope to suffragists around the nation and the world.


– Sir Ernest Rutherford was a New Zealand (Nelson) born physicist, and chemist. Rutherford became famous for “splitting the atom” and was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1908 for his work with nuclear physics.


– Sir Edmund Hilary was the first man to climb Mt Everest (along with Tenzing Norway). On 29 May 1953, it was confirmed that the mountaineers reached the summit. Since this achievement, Sir Edmund Hilary has devoted most of his life to improve the lives of the Sherpa people. Through the Himalayan Trust that he founded, many schools and hospitals in Nepal have been built.


– The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is one of the top grossing films of all time. The name has become a familiar movie title all over the world, along with the director’s name Peter Jackson. Sir Peter Jackson was born on 31 October 1961 in Pukerua Bay, in the North Island. Starting from a young age he has always had an interest in film making. He has won countless awards for his work including Oscars, BAFTA, and Golden Globe awards.  Other movies that Jackson has directed include, King Kong, Heavenly Creatures, and Lovely Bones.


– New Zealand is a great sporting nation, and is a strong player particularly in Rugby, Rowing, and Netball .The All Blacks Rugby team is among the best in the world. In the Rugby World Cup, they have placed in the top 4 for 6 out of 7 tournaments and won in 1987, and 2011. In rowing, New Zealanders have won numerous medals (bronze, silver and gold) at the Olympic games. Mahe Drysdale, the Swindell Sisters and Eric Murray represent just a portion of the many skilled rowers. As well as many successes in rugby, and rowing, netball is also a sport that New Zealand is dominant in. The Silver ferns is the national team, and currently ranks 1st on the International Netball Federation (INF) world rankings.


– The New Zealand Dairy Industry is one of the strongest in the world and currently accounts for providing over 1/3 of international dairy trade. Not only do New Zealand dairy companies feed over 100 million people world-wide, it contributes 25% of our export earnings. A couple of interesting facts – in 2012 19.1 billion liters of milk were processed by New Zealand companies and milk powder is the biggest export at 42%.



New Zealand is part of Australia…

In terms of size, New Zealand is a very small country. Amongst many great big nations on the map people often find it difficult to spot us. This being said, the easiest way to describe to someone the location of New Zealand is that it is the “small island beside Australia”. However, it is frequently mistaken that New Zealand is actually part of Australia, which it is not. There has been a relatively strong relationship between Australia and New Zealand for many years, and it has been difficult for us to move out of the shadow of our larger counterpart. Through time more and more people globally are learning the name of New Zealand and recognising it as an independent nation.


New Zealanders sound just like Australians…

New Zealand and Australia are like brothers and sisters. Because of our close ties, it seems okay, if not normal to make fun of each other. It is somewhat an obligation to have some Aussie-jokes up your sleeve (who created the pavlova first, and whether vegemite or marmite tastes better). Part of the classic kiwi-humour is highlighting the differences between New Zealand and Australian accents. There are 3 official languages of New Zealand – Maori, and Sign Language – but English is predominately spoken throughout the county. Many speakers from the Northern Hemisphere are unable to tell apart the New Zealand accent to Australia’s but boy, ask a Kiwi and they can give you all the logistics of the differences. Our accent seems to be something that many people have a laugh about. New Zealanders are notoriously known to say ‘fish and chips’ sounding like “fush and chups”, and Australia is more like “feesh and cheeps”. So to clarify; from a New Zealander’s perspective – we do not believe that we sound the same as Australians despite others thinking that we do. There are however, many similarities and differences between the 2 accents but at the end of the day we would like to hope that people around the world view us as a separate country to Australia.


New Zealand is all but a rural nation…

For years “clean green” has been the driving campaign for New Zealand tourism. Although, the scenic mountains, grass, and hills are a huge asset to New Zealand this is not all you will see if you visit. When travelling from city to city, yes, you will pass countless farms, thereby see an overwhelming swarm of green grass. This does not mean that all New Zealanders are farmers. We do have many cities that embody aspects of those “big towns”. Large cities like Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington are miniature compared to the likes of Beijing and New York. However, people in these regions are very much up to date with the latest trends (fashion and technological), faced by consumerism and have what we call first world problems. All in all, there is a chance to experience both city life and country life in New Zealand.



Well, that is New Zealand summed in about 3000 words. Hopefully, you will see past the misconceptions made about this country. Although it is patriotic of me to highlight the many positive aspects of New Zealand, I too have fallen in love with this small nation. But, only when you see New Zealand for your own eyes will you fully grasp how beautiful and diverse this place truly is.

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