Chapter 10: Australia and New Zealand

The historic isolation of New Zealand and Australia from the rest of the world has caused animals and organisms that are not found anywhere else to develop in these two countries. The unique biodiversity includes marsupials, or animals whose young are raised in the mother’s pouch, such as kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, and bandicoots.

CSIRO: Australia’s Marsupials
Note: This video mentions evolution.
Smithsonian Channel: How Marsupials Are Different From Other Mammals (4K)


New Zealand and Australia were both inhabited before the era of European colonialism. Aboriginal people are said to have migrated to Australia across Southeast Asia from the mainland of Asia. They made Australia their home and adapted to the physical geography of the continent. For thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, the Aborigines carved out an existence in Australia and developed their cultural ways. Only about four hundred fifty thousand Aborigines remain in Australia today.

Amy Toensing: The Aboriginal Homeland | Nat Geo Live
Note: This video is about 17 min. long.

New Zealand was inhabited by the Polynesian group called the Maori who established themselves on the islands in the tenth century. For hundreds of years they, too, established their culture and traditions in the region before the Europeans arrived. The Aborigines in Australia and the Maori in New Zealand were both confronted with the European invaders. From their standpoint, there was much to lose by the arrival of the Europeans. Lands were lost, new diseases killed many, and control of their methods of livelihood were taken over by Europeans. The Maori initiated a number of wars against British colonizers, but in the end, the greater military power gained the advantage. At the present time, the Maori make up less than 10 percent of the population of New Zealand.

Tā moko is the permanent marking or "tattoo" as traditionally practiced by Māori.
Maori Man – Tā moko is the permanent marking or “tattoo” as traditionally practiced by Māori.
Maori girl
Maori girl

The sighting of Australia by the Dutch dates to 1606. Portuguese explorers may have discovered Australia earlier, but there are no written records. In the early 1700s, the northern and western coastlines of Australia were known as “New Holland.” There were no established colonies. James Cook, a naval officer working for the British navy, commanded the good ship Endeavor and mapped Australia’s eastern coast in 1770. He made port at Botany Bay, just south of the current city of Sydney and claimed the region for Britain. He named the land New South Wales. The charting of the coast resulted in continued attention being paid to the region.

The Founding of Australia. By Capt. Arthur Phillip R.N. Sydney Cove, Jan. 26th 1788

Meanwhile, England had a severe problem with overcrowding of its prisons. Its problem was exacerbated by the loss of Britain’s American colonies. Upon Cook’s return to England, interest was generated in the concept of relieving prison overcrowding by sending prisoners to Australia. In 1787, eleven ships with seven hundred fifty convicts sailed from Great Britain to Botany Bay. Prison colonies were established in Australia. By the end of the seventeenth century, the entire Australian continent was under the British Crown. At the same time that the movement of prisoners from England to Australia was diminishing, the next wave of immigration was being fueled by the discovery of gold in the 1850s. The practice of transferring prisoners to Australia ended in 1868. The arrival of the Europeans had caused a serious demise in the Aboriginal population. Aborigines were completely decimated in Tasmania.

Tasmania (in red)
Tasmania (in red)
Simple History: Australian Penal Colonies

In 1901, the various territories and states of Australia came together under one federation called the Commonwealth of Australia. The British monarch is considered the head of state, though it is mainly a ceremonial position. There have been movements within Australia in recent years to separate from the British Crown, but they have not been approved. Australia has a democratically elected government.

British naval officer James Cook mapped the coastline of New Zealand in 1769. As the colonial era emerged, Great Britain took possession of New Zealand and included it with its colony of New South Wales. In the 1840s, New Zealand became a separate crown colony. The colony developed a local parliament and a representative government. By 1893, New Zealand made headlines as the first country in the world granting all women the right to vote. As a part of the British Empire, the country was made a commonwealth nation in 1947 and has been functioning independently ever since.

Just for fun: Jim Gaffigan – Topic: Colonialism – Australia & New Zealand


Australia map
Australia map

Physical Geography

Australia is the flattest and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils. Just slightly smaller in physical area than the continental United States, Australia is a large country with many resources but few people relative to its size. The Tropic of Capricorn runs right through the middle of this country. Australia hosts many unique species of plants and animals, including marsupials and a host of poisonous snakes and insects. With the advent of European colonialism, new species were introduced to the country, which regrettably caused the extinction of some of the native species but also gave Australia a wide diversity of organisms and natural conditions.

Relief map of Australia
Relief map of Australia

Australia has deserts in the center of the country, tropical rainforests in the northeast, and mountains in the southeast. The Great Dividing Range is a mountain chain extending from Melbourne in the south to Cape York in the north. This low-lying range of highlands averages about four thousand feet and reaches an elevation of just over seven thousand feet at its highest peaks in the south.

The Great Dividing Range is in yellow. The Dividing Range does not consist of a single mountain range. It consists of a complex of mountain ranges, plateaus, upland areas and escarpments.
Great Dividing Range
A portion of the Great Dividing Range

The largest river in Australia is the Darling-Murray River system that starts in the highland of the Great Dividing Range and flows inward through New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia.

The great interior of the country is home to the massive outback. Extending west from the Great Dividing Range, the outback encompasses most of the interior.

The Vast Beauty of South Australia’s Outback | National Geographic

This region receives less rainfall than along the coast and its terrain consists of deserts and semiarid plateaus with rough grasses and scrublands. The outback is sparsely populated but is home to a number of aboriginal groups. Many of the school-age children in the outback have traditionally received their school lessons through television or radio broadcasts because of their isolation. The outback is extremely rich in iron and other ores, and also contains deposits of gold, nickel, copper, and even opals.

Coober Pedy | National Geographic

You can watch a TV show called Outback Opal Hunters that documents the search for these elusive and beautiful treasures (check Discovery GO for full, free episodes).

Alice Springs is located in the center of the continent and has been given the designation of the middle of nowhere, or the center of everything.

Sky News Australia: Alice Springs: A must-visit destination in Australia

The deserts of Australia’s interior make up a large portion of the continent. Western Australia has three large deserts: the Gibson DesertGreat Victoria Desert, and the Great Sandy Desert. The Simpson Desert is located in the border region between the Northern Territory, Queensland, and South Australia.

Deserts in Australia
Deserts in Australia

These deserts are not all sand; coarse grasses and various species of spinifex, a short plant that grows in sandy soil, also grow in the deserts. The Great Artesian Basin on the western edge of the Great Dividing Range receives very little rainfall.

Map of the Great Artesian Basin in Australia
Map of the Great Artesian Basin in Australia

It would be classified as a desert but for its underground water resources, which support extensive farming operations. Large livestock businesses exist in Australia’s interior with massive herds of cattle and sheep. The grassy plateaus and scrublands provide grazing for domesticated livestock and even wild camels.

The following video explains why there are over a million wild camels in Australia, how they affect different areas, and what is being done about it. It’s pretty interesting. Note: This video shows camels being shot and shows some camel carcasses.

Outback camels: culls and carcasses or milk and meat? ? | Meet the Ferals Ep 8 | ABC Australia

The Great Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the world, extends for 1,600 miles off the northeastern coast of Australia. It is home to a host of sea creatures and fish that draw millions of tourists each year. The reef attracts scuba divers and water enthusiasts from around the world. The reef is a main tourism attraction and brings income to the Australian economy. The Great Barrier Reef has been designated as a United Nations World Heritage Site. 

National Geographic: Great Barrier Reef | Exploring Oceans
A variety of corals form an outcrop on Flynn Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef
A variety of corals form an outcrop on Flynn Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef

Australian forests are mostly made up of evergreen species, particularly eucalyptus trees in the less arid regions. Many of Australia’s animals are unique and it’s is home to many dangerous animals including some of the most venomous snakes in the world.

SciShow: 7 of Australia’s Most Terrifying Inhabitants

Brisbane is located on the Gold Coast, which gets its name from the beautiful sandy beaches. The beaches attract an important tourism market for the country.

Gold Coast skyline
Gold Coast skyline

A couple of large physical features of interest and significance to Australia are the two largest monoliths in the world. In western Australia, more than five hundred miles to the northeast of Perth, is Mt. Augustus National Park, which features the rock known as Mt. Augustus. It is considered to be the largest single rock in the world. Mt. Augustus rises 2,352 feet above the desert landscape.

Mt. Augustus
Mt. Augustus

The single structure is about five miles long. Mt. Augustus is more than twice the size of the most famous Australian monolith of Uluru (Ayers Rock). Uluru is located about two hundred miles southwest of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and is a well-known tourist attraction. Uluru rises 1,142 feet above the outback and is about 2.2 miles long. Both rocks hold significant cultural value to the aboriginal populations in Australia. They both have ancient petroglyphs, and both are considered sacred sites. Uluru has been more popularized through tourism promotions.

Uluru/Ayers Rock
Uluru/Ayers Rock

Climate Regions

Central and western Australia are sparsely populated. Large areas of the Northern Territory and the desert regions are uninhabited. Approximately 40 percent of Australia’s interior is desert. The large landmass can heat up during the summer months, triggering high temperatures. Low humidity allows heat to escape into the atmosphere after the sun goes down, so there is wide temperature variation between day and night.

Pinnacles in Nambung National Park in Western Australia
Pinnacles in Nambung National Park in Western Australia

Along the northern coastal region there are more tropical Type A climates. Closer to the equator and with the sea to moderate temperatures, the northern areas around Darwin and Cape York have little temperature variation. Temperatures in Darwin average about 90 °F in the summer and 86 °F in the winter. Spring monsoons bring additional rainfall from February to March.

Dorrigo Rain forest National Park, Coffs Harbour, NSW. Australia
Dorrigo Rain forest National Park, Coffs Harbour, NSW. Australia

Tasmania, Victoria, and the core region of the southeast have a more moderate and temperate Type C climate. The main cities, such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, are within this area. It is not surprising that there is a direct correlation between Type C climates and the major population areas. The Tropic of Capricorn cuts across the continent, indicating that the cities are not that far south of the tropics.

Tropic of Capricorn cuts across Australia
Tropic of Capricorn cuts across Australia

Average winter temperatures in June and July do not usually fall below 50 °F and average summer temperatures in January and February remain around 70 °F. Since the seasons are reversed from that of the Northern Hemisphere, many Australians go to the beach for Christmas.

The People

Australia is divided politically into six states and two territories. They are the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania, South Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales.

Australia's states and territories
Australia’s states and territories

Australian protectorates are composed of a number of small islands around Australia. Australian core areas are conducive to large human populations. To locate the core population areas in Australia, simply find the moderate Type C climates. Australia has two core regions. There is a small core region in the west, anchored by the city of Perth. Perth – City Video Guide

Most of Australia’s people live in the large core region in the east along the coast. This region extends from Brisbane to Adelaide and holds most of the country’s population.

The total population of Australia in 2020 was only about twenty-five million. There are about 21 million people living in Mexico City (which gives you an idea of how sparsely populated Australia is). More than 90 percent of this population has European heritage; most of this percentage is from the British Isles. English is the dominant language. Christianity is the dominant religion of choice. The makeup of the people is a product of European colonialism and immigration.

Only about 2 percent of the current population consists of Aboriginal people, the original people of Australia. Australia’s population has seen periodic growth spurts as waves of immigrants responded to national policies encouraging immigration. This was especially true after World War II. About 24 percent of the current population was born outside Australia; most come from the United Kingdom, and another large percentage comes from New Zealand. Asian countries have also contributed to the Australian population, with measurable numbers of immigrants from China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. And lastly, people from Italy and India also make up a notable proportion of Australia’s immigrant population.

Australia’s population is not spread evenly across the landscape since a large portion of the country is desert. The population is concentrated mostly in urban areas. About 90 percent of the population inhabits the cities, which are mostly in coastal areas. The largest city, Sydney, is often referred to as the New York of Australia. Sydney is positioned at the heart of the main core area, the state of New South Wales.

Sydney Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

To the south of Sydney is the Australian Capital Territory, home to the capital city of Canberra.

Canberra Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Other major Australian cities include Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane. Hobart is the largest city on the island of Tasmania and Darwin is the largest city in the Northern Territory.

Hobart Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

English is the first language of the vast majority of the population. Indigenous languages have not fared so well. As many as three hundred indigenous languages were spoken by Aborigines before the Europeans arrived, and just a few hundred years later, that number now stands at about seventy. Most aboriginal languages are in danger of dying out.

Until 1973, Australia had a collection of laws and policies known as the White Australia policy, which served to limit the immigration of nonwhite persons to Australia. While the White Australia policies limited immigration from some areas, other policies sought to expand immigration from the United Kingdom. Subsidies were offered to British citizens to relocate to Australia. Between 1830 and 1940, more than a million British citizens took advantage of the offer.

Australia’s life expectancy is the third highest in the world for males and the seventh highest for females, but it has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

The culture of Australia is primarily a Western culture, to some extent derived from Britain but also influenced by the unique geography of Australia, the cultural input of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other Australian people. Music is an integral part of Aboriginal culture. The most famous feature of their music is the didgeridoo.

Contemporary Australian cuisine combines British and indigenous origins with Mediterranean and Asian influences. Australia’s abundant natural resources allow access to a large variety of quality meats, and to barbecue beef or lamb in the open air is considered a cherished national tradition. The great majority of Australians live close to the sea and Australian seafood restaurants have been listed among the world’s best. Bush tucker refers to a wide variety of plant and animal foods native to the Australian bush: bush fruits such as kakadu plums, finger limes, and desert quandongs; fish and shellfish of Australia’s saltwater river systems; and bush meats including emu, crocodile, and kangaroo. Many of these are still seasonally hunted and gathered by Indigenous Australians.

Bush tucker (bush foods) harvested at Alice Springs Desert Park
Bush tucker (bush foods) harvested at Alice Springs Desert Park
The riberry has a tart, craberry-like flavor.
The riberry has a tart, craberry-like flavor.
A quadong has a tart flavor that is similar to that of a peach, apricot, or rhubarb. The kernel of the fruit can be easily gathered from emu droppings and is high in fats.
A quadong has a tart flavor that is similar to that of a peach, apricot, or rhubarb. The kernel of the fruit can be easily gathered from emu droppings and is high in fats.

Kangaroo, emu and crocodile meat is available in Australia, although they are not among the most commonly eaten meats. In colonial recipes, kangaroo was treated much like ox tail, and braised until tender forming a rich gravy. It is available today in various cuts and sausages.

Kangaroo meat for sale at the supermarket
Kangaroo meat for sale at the supermarket

Lamb is very popular in Australia. Australia consumes more sheep meat than any other country. Iconic Australian foods include ANZAC biscuits, lamingtons, Tim Tams, Chiko Rolls, fairy bread and Vegemite, a vitamin-rich, savory brewers yeast which is spread on toasted bread.

Vegemite on toast
Vegemite on toast
A lamington is an Australian cake made from squares of butter cake or sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut.
Fairy bread is sliced white bread spread with butter or margarine and covered with sprinkles.
Anzac biscuits are made from rolled oats.
Tim Tam is a brand of chocolate biscuit made by the Australian biscuit company Arnott’s. It consists of two malted biscuits separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.
A Chiko Roll is a snack filled with cabbage and other items like carrot, green beans, beef, etc. enclosed in a egg and flour pastry tube.

Economic Geography

Most of Australia—especially the wide expanse of the arid interior known as the outback—has immense open spaces, agricultural potential or excellent resource extraction possibilities. The extensive grasslands support tens of millions of domesticated animals—mainly cattle and sheep—which accounts for up to one-fifth of the world’s wool production. Large agricultural businesses include thousands of acres under one operation. The western sector of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales is an excellent region for commercial grain operations. The coastal region in Queensland, since it is warmer and receives more rainfall, is good for sugarcane and similar crops. Sheep and cattle ranches are common in central Queensland and Western Australia. Various regions of southern Australia are excellent for grape and fruit production. Australian wine production has risen to compete with the US and European markets. Only the dry central desert regions in the center of the continent are not favorable for agriculture. In the early portion of the twentieth century, Australia gained enormous wealth by exporting food products to the rest of the world. This is still true, but the profit margin on food goods is no longer what it used to be. The country has had to look elsewhere to gain wealth.

Are any Australian-manufactured products available where you live? What products can you think of? Australia does not export many manufactured goods. Its main exports are food and raw materials. If you remember how countries gain wealth, the method with the highest valued-added profit is manufacturing. Think about Japan and the four Asian economic tigers, and how they have gained their wealth. The economic tigers have few raw materials. Where do you suppose the economic tigers and Japan get their raw materials? With Japan’s enormous manufacturing capacity, it has a high demand for imported iron ore, minerals, and raw materials. Though Australia is a former British colony, Great Britain is not considered Australia’s largest trading partner. Australia is closer geographically to the Asian economic community than to the European Union. Japan has become Australia’s biggest trading partner. When Australia is viewed in the news, in television programs, and in Hollywood movies, it is portrayed as a country with a similar standard of living to the United States or Europe. How do Australians have such a high standard of living if they don’t manufacture anything for export? To evaluate this, think about the size of the population of Australia and consider the distribution of wealth. They export an immense amount of raw materials and have a relatively small population to share the wealth.

Australia is an attractive place to visit. The environment, the animals, and the culture make it inviting for tourism. Tourism has become Australia’s number one means of economic income. From the Great Barrier Reef and the Gold Coast to the vast expanse of the outback, Australia has been marketing itself as an attractive place to visit with great success. Tourism from Japan provides a large percentage of tourist activity.

Australia’s Future

The economic future of Australia is complex. Though tourism has become a viable means of providing income, Australia must import manufactured products that it does not produce locally, including electronic goods, computers, and automobiles. Import dependence has increased its trade deficit. Trade agreements and protectionism have become a part of the economic puzzle of how to sustain a competitive standard of living. Australia is located next to the Asian realm. Its economy, culture, and future are becoming more Asian. Immigration has been an issue in that the government has always restricted immigration to ensure a European majority. Millions of Asian people would like to migrate to Australia to seek greater opportunities and advantages, but they are legally restricted. It is becoming more difficult for Australians to hold to their European connections with such an Asian presence. How the country will handle this situation in the future will prove interesting.

How does immigration work in Australia? BBC News

New Zealand

New Zealand map
New Zealand map

Physical Geography

To the east of Australia across the Tasman Sea is the country of New Zealand. New Zealand is one of a number of sets of islands that make up Oceania, also referred to as the Pacific Islands, a region occupying the western and central Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Islands region is generally divided into three subregions: Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia, with New Zealand being part of Polynesia. The Pacific Island region includes more than twenty-five thousand individual small islands representing twenty-five nations and territories. Most of these islands are very small. The South and North islands of New Zealand are the second- and third-largest islands, respectively.

Polynesia includes New Zealand.
Polynesia includes New Zealand.

The North and South Islands of New Zealand are separated by a body of water known as the Cook Strait, which is only about thirteen miles wide at its narrowest point.

Cook Strait
Cook Strait

The North and South Islands together are about the same size as the US state of Colorado. New Zealand also includes a number of smaller nearby islands.

New Zealand, like Australia, is in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that its seasons are expressed at the opposite times of the seasons in North America. In other words, the warmest summer months are January and February and the cooler winter months are June and July. New Zealand lies within the Temperate Zone. There are only very moderate seasonal differences, which are slightly more pronounced in the inland areas because the inland areas lack the moderating influence of the ocean. In general, the North Island has somewhat warmer average temperatures than the South Island. In summer, average low temperatures are about 50 °F, with daytime highs around 75 °F. In the winter months, low temperatures average about 35 °F and high temperatures are about 50 °F. The occurrence of more extreme temperatures is limited to the mountainous peaks of the Southern Alps. Snow is common in these mountainous regions but rarely occurs in coastal regions.

Rainfall is heaviest on the western coasts of both islands, but especially on the South Island. The prevailing westerly winds, carrying moisture from the ocean, come in contact with the mountains of the Southern Alps and high precipitation results.

Snow highlights the Southern Alps in this satellite image.
Snow highlights the Southern Alps in this satellite image.
View of Mount Cook, the highest peak in the Southern Alps.
View of Mount Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand. It’s in the Southern Alps.

The mountains also have the opposite effect. On the eastern side of the mountains is a rain shadow where the westerly winds blow hot, dry air and the eastern coasts are therefore substantially drier than the western coasts. Therefore, average precipitation rates vary widely across the country. The average annual rainfall in Christchurch, which is on the eastern coast of the South Island, is about twenty-five inches per year. Auckland, in the midportion of the North Island, receives twice that amount, and areas on the wetter western coast receive as much as one hundred fifteen inches per year.

As an island nation, New Zealand’s coastlines and oceans are some of its most important geographic features. New Zealand has one of the world’s largest exclusive economic zones, an oceanic zone over which a nation has exclusive rights of exploration and exploitation of marine resources. New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone covers more than one million square miles.

New Zealand's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covers at least 4,083,744 square kilometers (1,576,742 sq mi), which is approximately 15 times the land area of the country.
New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covers at least 4,083,744 square kilometers (1,576,742 sq mi), which is approximately 15 times the land area of the country.

The dramatic nature of New Zealand’s landscape is well known to many moviegoers as the landscape of Middle Earth, as depicted in New Zealand film director Peter Jackson’s version of J. R. R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.

Warner Bros. Pictures: New Zealand – Home of Middle-earth

The North Island of New Zealand features a rather rugged coastline with numerous harbors, bays, and inlets. The port cities of Auckland and Wellington are located on two of the largest bays.

Auckland Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia
Auckland coast
Auckland coast

The coastline of the South Island is somewhat more regular, except along the southern portion of the eastern coastline, which has deep fjords. Though the North Island has lower relief than its southern counterpart, its few mountains are volcanic in origin. The two main islands are accompanied by smaller islands around their shores. The North Island’s highest peak is Mt. Ruapehu, which reaches almost 9,175 feet and is an active cone volcano. It is located in the south-central part of the island.

Mt. Ruapehu
Mt. Ruapehu

A range of highlands runs along its eastern side. The volcanism associated with Mt. Ruapehu results from New Zealand’s location atop two tectonic plates: the Pacific Plate and the Indo-Australian Plate. The boundary of these two plates forms a subduction zone under the North Island; consequently, New Zealand experiences tens of thousands of earthquakes per year.

Tectonic plates - Note how the Australian plate bumps into the Pacific plate right where New Zealand is located.
Tectonic plates – Note how the Australian plate bumps into the Pacific plate right where New Zealand is located.

Though most of the earthquakes do not greatly disrupt human activity, some have registered higher than 7 on the Richter scale. New Zealanders have made use of the geothermal power generated by this and the tectonic features of this area and hence, New Zealand is home to several hydrothermal power plants.

New Zealand: The Ultimate Travel Guide by TourRadar 5/5

Biodiversity in New Zealand

New Zealand’s geological history has laid the groundwork for more than 2,000 indigenous plant species, about 1,500 of which are found nowhere else in the world. The biomes of the North Island include a subtropical area, including mangrove swamps, an evergreen forest with dense undergrowth of mosses and ferns, and a small grasslands area in the central volcanic plain. The South Island biomes include extensive grasslands in the east, which are excellent for agricultural pursuits; forest areas, dominated by native beech trees in the west; and an alpine vegetation zone in the Southern Alps.

In terms of fauna, the most influential factor may be the relative absence of predatory mammals, again related to New Zealand’s geological history. With few ground predators and a favorable climate, bats, small reptiles, and birds were able to thrive and flourish. Many species of birds are flightless, such as the noted Kiwi.

Bizarre, Furry Kiwi Bird Gets a Closer Look | National Geographic
Note: This video mentions evolution.

New Zealand’s most famous bird, the moa, was similar to the ostrich but is now extinct. Moa could grow to more than twelve feet high and weigh more than five hundred pounds. New Zealand is known for its large number of species of wild birds. The Kiwi is the most noted and is often used to refer to people from New Zealand, as it is the national symbol of the country. The weta is a huge insect that lives in New Zealand.

Wired: Absurd Creatures | Meet the Weta, an Insect as Big as a Gerbil

Cultural Dynamics and the Maori

New Zealand is home to many Polynesian groups. Its original inhabitants were the Maori, who came to the islands around the tenth century. They grew crops of gourds and sweet potatoes. Fur seals were hunted regularly, as were moa, which were hunted to extinction before the Europeans arrived. The Maori had created extensive trading networks with other island groups and developed a heritage of traditional rituals and cultural ways. The Maori culture thrived for hundreds of years and was well established in New Zealand before the arrival of the colonial ships from Europe.

Britain was the main colonizer of the islands. The British settled in to establish their presence and gain control. In 1840, the British colonizers and the Maori signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which granted British sovereignty over the islands but allowed the Maori certain rights over tribal lands. The actual language in this treaty has been debated between the English version and the Maori version. Over time the tribal lands were codified into legal arrangements by the European colonizers. Since the Treaty of Waitangi, the situation has evolved, with subsequent land exchanges, some legal and others questionable. The Maori have complained about unfair treatment and the loss of land and rights in the process. These issues have finally reached a point of negotiation in the past couple of decades. Starting in the 1990s, treaty settlements have been made to help correct the actions of the colonial activity and compensate the Maori for the conditions they were subjugated to.

Most of the Maori have lived on the North Island. They were a real concern for the European colonizers. Claimed by Great Britain in their colonial empire, the country of New Zealand became independent of Britain in 1901. In 2010, the estimate of the population of the country was at about 4.3 million, with Europeans making up 60 percent of the population and the Maori making up about 8 percent. There are also many people who are of mixed ethnic background, including Maori and other groups. Asians, Polynesians, and other ethnic minorities make up the rest. New Zealand’s main religion is Christianity and English is the official language.

The Maori have not been integrated into New Zealand society to the same extent as Europeans have. The Maori now join the ranks of other Pacific Islanders that have moved to New Zealand from Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, and many other places in the South Pacific. New Zealand’s urban areas reflect diversity in the various cultural landscapes and ethnic communities that have established themselves in specific neighborhoods within the main cities. A common dilemma with all peoples is the draw to return to their heritage and roots, which typically results in a more traditional lifestyle with stronger cultural ways. At the same time, the modern world pulls people toward a more global and cosmopolitan culture that is steeped in modernity with changing fashions. The Maori and other ethnic groups in New Zealand find themselves facing this dichotomy of societal dynamics.

History Quickly: Entire History of New Zealand ll History Quickly

Economic Conditions

Land and climate could be said to be New Zealand’s most important natural resources. Fertile soils and a mild climate, complete with thousands of hours of sunshine annually, create ideal conditions for agriculture. Grass continues to grow throughout the year, which means that sheep and other livestock can be well grazed. Wool and other agricultural products, notably meat and butter, are important exports for New Zealand’s economy. The largely rural life in early New Zealand led to the image of New Zealanders being rugged, industrious problem solvers.

Al Jazeera English: New Zealand sheep farmers use drones to shepherd
Sheep in Canterbury, New Zealand
Sheep in Canterbury, New Zealand

Healthy forests produce timber products, which are important to the economy as well. Some of New Zealand’s natural resources are found underground, including coal, natural gas, gold, and other minerals.

Wellington is the capital of the country and is located on the southern end of the North Island. Wellington is one-fourth the size of the primary city, Auckland, which has 1.2 million people and is located in the north. The major cities are located along the coastal regions and provide a connection to sea transportation.

Wellington Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

The modern cities are home to a multitude of processing centers preparing abundant agricultural products for domestic consumption and for export products. The ever-growing populations of Asia and the rest of the world continue to place a high demand on food products and welcome New Zealand’s agricultural exports. In relation to how countries gain wealth, agricultural profits are usually quite competitive and normally provide a low-profit margin. New Zealand does not gain a large part of its national income from mining or manufacturing, though these industries do exist. The high standard of living that exists in New Zealand is similar to that of Australia in that the population is not very large so that the national wealth can be distributed via the private sector economy to accommodate a relatively good lifestyle and provide for a comfortable standard of living.

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Next: Chapter 11: The Pacific

Additional information and image credits:

Australia map By OCHA, CC BY 3.0,
Maori man By Graham Crumb/, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Maori girl By Seth Mazow – auckland 209, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Founding of Sydney By Algernon Talmage –, Public Domain,
New Zealand map By OCHA, CC BY 3.0,
Tasmania By TUBS – Own workThis W3C-unspecified vector image was created with Adobe Illustrator.This file was uploaded with Commonist.This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this file:  Australia location map.svg (by NordNordWest)., CC BY-SA 3.0,
relief map of Australia By Hans Braxmeier –, CC BY-SA 2.5,
Great Dividing Range By Ordinary Person – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Great Dividing Range photo By fir0002flagstaffotos [at] gmail.comCanon 20D + Canon 17-40mm f/4 L – Own work, GFDL 1.2,
Darling River map By Martyman – Transferred from en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Deserts By Lencer – own work, used:GMT and SRTM3V2Deserts in Australia, by Australian Government, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Artisan Basin By Tentotwo – Basin extent: Geoscience Australia Revised Great Artesian Basin Jurassic-Cretaceous boundaryCoastline, rivers, state borders: Natural Earth dataset, 1:50MShaded relief: Kenneth Townsend, Shaded Relief Archive, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Coral reef By Toby Hudson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Gold Coast By Petra –, CC BY 2.0,
Mt. Augustus CC BY 2.5,
Dorrigo rain forest By DOMENICO STALLO – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Pinnacles Desert By Ruth Ellison from Canberra, Australia – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,
Tropic of Capricorn By Thesevenseas (talk) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Regions map By Peter Fitzgerald, French translation by Joelf – Own work based on OpenStreetMap, the blank map of Australian states, and map of Great Barrier Reef, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Bush Tucker By Tourism NT – Imagegallery Tourism NT, Attribution,
Quadong By John Moss – Own work, Public Domain,
Riberry By Poyt448 Peter Woodard – Own work, Public Domain,
Kangaroo meat CC BY-SA 3.0,
Vegemite By Tristanb – 23:18, 18. Jan 2004 . . Tristanb (Talk) . . 460×521 (64363 Byte), CC BY-SA 3.0,
Anzac biscuit By me (w:User:pfctdayelise) – Image taken by me using Casio QV-R41, CC BY-SA 2.5,
Lamingtons By Zeitgeistlondon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Chiko roll By Gillbates55 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Fairy bread CC BY-SA 3.0,
Polynesia By Hobe / Holger Behr – Own work, Public Domain,
Cook Strait
South Island By Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC – NASA’s Earth Observatory, Public Domain,
Mt. Cook By kewl – Pixabay archive copy, CC0,
Economic zone By Hans van der Maarel – Previously unpublished. Provided by author to me for uploading on his behalf., CC BY-SA 4.0,
Auckland coast By Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand – New Zealand landfall – Auckland West Coast, 16 Aug. 2010, CC BY 2.0,
Mt Ruapehu By Michal Klajban – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Plates By USGS –, Public Domain,
Sheep By Phillip Capper – ([1]), CC BY 2.0,

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