NEW ZEALAND: AREOTA (LAND OF WHITE CLOUDS)

NEW ZEALAND: AREOTA (LAND OF WHITE CLOUDS)

“I got to say, God really outdid itself down here” Bob Harper.

In a nutshell, New Zealand is glamorous, prosperous and progressive. How much better could it be?

The country covers 268,838 sq. km, that is twice the size of Florida. Its population has reached 5.01 million. Contrarily to the Australians who eliminated all but a few of the Aborigines (now 0.5% of the population), the New Zealanders are 1/3 Maori in census number. Healthcare and education are considered basic human rights. Women, LGBTs are treated as equal.

Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, is only 38. She is the only female head of government who, in a Western democracy, has given birth a to child, while in the active exercise of her function.

The first European to reach New Zealand was Abel Tasman in 1642.  That was 400 years after the Maori settled on the land that they called Areota. However, there is historical evidence that the area was already inhabited several thousands of years earlier. In 1769, James Cook took possession of the land on the name of the British crown. It became independent in 1907.

The government is unicameral, headed by a prime minister. New Zealand is a member of the British Commonwealth, as such, it is a constitutional monarchy.  Queen Elizabeth is the head of state; she is locally represented by a governor general.

Geographically, New Zealand is made of the North Island and the South Island, located between the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific Ocean.  The capital is Wellington, not Auckland; both cities are located on the North Island.    Only 20% of the population live on the South Island.

Both English and Maori are official languages. Most of the population is Christian, though 38% claim to be agnostic. The average New Zealander is 38-year old. Age expectancy at birth is 81 years.  Infant mortality rate is 4.4 per 1,000 live births.

New Zeeland’s GDP is $189 billion, growing at 3% per annum.  GDP per capita of $38,900 (vs India: $1,940). GINI coefficient is 36.2%.  The unemployment rate is 4.9%.  The literacy rate is 99%.

The country mostly exports dairy products and meat. It imports petroleum, machinery, and electronics.  Its main trading partners are Australia and China (not the US).

The country is at the forefront of the anti-nuclear pacifist movement and is deeply involved in the fight against global warming. Because of its anti-nuclear stand, New Zealand is no longer a partner in the mutual defense pact with the US and Australia.

From all vantage points, the future of New Zealand is bright.

 

 

The Traveller

(Odler Robert Jeanlouie, Tuesday, October 9, 2018, Auckland, the former capital of New Zealand.)

 

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