The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa. It means Land of the Long White Cloud. Maoris call New Zealanders of European descent ‘pakeha’.
There are two main islands and many smaller ones. South Island (Te Waipounamu) is larger than North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui).
New Zealand is a land of contrasts. You can see active volcanoes, spectacular caves, deep glacier lakes, dazzling fjords, long sandy beaches and snow-capped peaks.
You will find more penguin species in New Zealand than in any other country. There are other flightless birds, too. It is the sole home of the long-beaked Kiwi, which is also a nickname for a New Zealander!
New Zealand was the first major nation to have universal suffrage. In 1893 all women and men were given the right to vote.
It was also the first country in the world to have women elected to its three top positions simultaneously – Prime Minister, Governor General and Chief Justice.
At least two thirds of all young New Zealanders do at least 2.5 hours or more of sport and active leisure per week.
Football, rugby, sailing and golf are popular. Netball is huge. It draws large TV audiences, which at times are larger than those recorded for rugby matches.
New Zealand joined the Commonwealth in 1931.
It has competed in every Commonwealth Games since 1930. New Zealand also hosted the Games in 1950, 1974 and 1990. The Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games produced 58 medals for the hosts, 17 of which were Gold.