“”I believe we were all glad to leave New Zealand. It is not a pleasant place ... the greater part of the English are the very refuse of society. Neither is the country itself attractive.
“”If you wish to kill yourself but lack the courage to, I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick.
|—John Cleese on one of New Zealand's provincial towns|
New Zealand (Middle Earth) is a country in Oceania. It is best described by this equivalence relation: New Zealand is to Australia, as Canada is to America. Some have described New Zealand as "like charmingly crap Britain in the 1950s." Others refer to it by its cleverdick nickname "Godzone," as in "God's Own Country," etc. New Zealand is a wonderful place to live.
All former Prime Minister's in recent political history have been agnostic, with even right-wing National Party leader John Key stating in a live interview - "I don't believe in life after death, so in the traditional sense of the world [sic] no, but I have no conclusive proof either way." Key resigned in late 2016, passing the mantle over to Bill English, who is a Roman Catholic yet has continued his predecessors' trend of keeping religion separate from politics. It seemed unlikely he will hold this position for long and left Parliament after losing the 2017 election to the left-wing Labour Party and leader Jacinda Ardern (Adern has been compared to both Barack Obama and Donald Trump which is odd given she is a 37 year old woman, former DJ and somewhat attractive - unlike Trump).
The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were filmed in New Zealand. It's also the home of bungee jumping.
There actually is an Old Zealand (or Zeeland as it's usually spelled these days) in the Netherlands, but New Zealand seems to be more popular. Neither one has any relation to Denmark's Zealand (Danish name Sjælland), or to Sealand, which is a tiny island in the North Sea that claims to be a real country, despite only having a population of 27.
New Zealand was the last major habitable landmass on the planet to be settled by humans. Polynesian voyagers, probably from the vicinity of the Cook Island, arrived around the 14th century and became the people known as Maori, whereupon they set out causing mass extinctions like every other group of people to first arrive on a major landmass. A few of these people then left to settle some small outlying islands, reverted to hunting and gathering because the land couldn't support agriculture, and became the Moriori.
The first European to sight New Zealand was the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who charted some of the western coast in 1642, naming it Staten Land. After remaining undisturbed for 125 years, European contact became frequent following the voyages of the great navigator James Cook, who charted most of the coastline and made detailed description of the land and people between 1769 and 1779.
The latter years of the 18th century saw increased interest in New Zealand from whalers and sealers, some of whom became the first European settlers. Missionaries arrived in the early part of the 19th century, although progress in spreading Christianity was initially very slow.
European contact, and especially the import of firearms, led to wide ranging inter-tribal wars in the 1820s and 1830s, killing an estimated 10% of the population and leading to the conquest and near total genocide of the Moriori, who unlike the Maori, had not been blessed/cursed with European contact.
New Zealand became officially a British colony in 1840, with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by leading Maori chiefs. The following 30 years however saw a series of conflicts between the settlers and Maori tribes, and also saw the beginning of the alienation of a large part of Maori-owned land.
New Zealand saw rapid immigration, mainly from Britain and developed a predominantly agrarian economy, boosted by the development of refrigerated shipping in the 1880s.
As a loyal colony, and later self-governing dominion, New Zealand was an enthusiastic participant in 20th century conflicts. Small contingents served in South Africa during the Boer War. Over 100,000 New Zealanders served during the First World War, with over 16,000 being killed from a population little more than 1 million.
The Second World War saw over 200,000 New Zealanders serve, and the 11,000 deaths gave a casualty rate higher than any other Commonwealth country.
For a relatively small country with a relatively short history, New Zealand has amassed an entertaining range of pseudo-historical theories around Maori and pre-Maori settlement. Nineteenth century European theories about origins speculated on Indian or 'Aryan' origins for Maori. There was also emphasis on the theory that Maori settlers has displaced earlier inhabitants: such a theory provided some kind of intellectual justificaton for later European colonisation. As better information emerged in the later twentieth century about origins, more far-fetched theories have also emerged, including such fantasies as Egyptian or 'Celtic' settlement.
For many years New Zealand was regarded[Who?] as a social laboratory, resulting in an extremely progressive governmental structure. New Zealand has no formal constitution, instead having a series of documents including a Bill of Rights (1990) and the Treaty of Waitangi (1840 - the original founding document signed by the British and by native Maori tribes who were, at the time, busy putting their new muskets to use in a series of bloody battles while the British settlers slowly chipped away at the Treaty - annexing large tracts of land), meaning that elected politicians who are (vaguely) accountable to the people decide on the laws.
New Zealand has a parliamentary system of governance with Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting taking place every three years. Voters have two votes, the first to determine the proportion of seats ultimately allocated to each party, the second vote determines which candidates win the geographical electorate seats auctioned off under First-Past-the-Post. Seats are potentially added by some mysterious sinister furniture-manufacturer to ensure approximate proportionality based on the party votes. While there are two largish parties, center-left Labour and center-right National, if any smaller party breaks the 5% threshold of votes they get a share of the seats in parliament (5% will get you around six of the ~120 seats in parliament) and potential influence over decision-making. Additionally, small parties may enter parliament by winning an electorate seat, which also removes the requirement of hurdling the 5% barrier to gain further seats. The New Zealand Parliament abolished its own upper house, the appointed "Legislative Council", in 1950.
The following "minor" parties control seats in the New Zealand parliament as of 2018:
- the New Zealand Green Party, the largest minor party alinged with the Labour Government.
- the NZ First Party, which revolves around the personality cult of its slightly criminal leader Winston Peters, which is populist in approach (generally a bunch of rabble-rousers who just scream "enough of this sort of thing!") with a core constituency of people with grey hair (also in coalition with Labour)
- the ACT Party, far-right but traditionally libertarian political party which has one seat controlled by a dude with weird hands and mannerisms
New Zealand has few lobby groups, but they do include the so-called Sensible Sentencing Trust and Family First New Zealand, which has a smörgåsbord of social conservative views that people rarely, if ever, listen to. New Zealand trade unions participate in the political process, the New Zealand Labour Party having elected a union leader as leader of the party in 2014 - presumably endeavoring to emulate those members of the Grand Old Party who fostered the career of one of the Great Leaders of the Western World.
New Zealand holds the world record for keeping its Head of State at a safe distance. The Sovereign in right of New Zealand lives in semi-permanent exile on the other side of the globe in a small island called Britain (off the coast of Brittany).
New Zealand's national religion is Rugby Union, and the national team, the All Blacks, used to have a curious ability to win every game in the four years in between world cups and then choke at the main event. The curse of the All Blacks was lifted in 2011 when they won the world cup in their own country, and then became the first nation to defend the title and the first to win it 3 times in the UK in 2015 further confirming their superiority over all other nations.
New Zealand is also home to Brian Tamaki, a televangelist who has founded Destiny Church, arguably New Zealand's first megachurch in the tradition of the United States model. In 2012 Tamaki announced plans to build his own community complete with schools, businesses and a university causing many to consider Destiny Church a cult.
Graham Capill, founder of the Christian Heritage political party and currently serving time for the rape of a twelve-year-old girl, also hails from New Zealand, demonstrating that extreme religious hypocrisy and pedophilia are a not unique to the Vatican. These are human traits after all.
The gap in life expectancy between Maori and non Maori is now 5-6 years.  Secondary school retention rates went from 4 per cent in 1985 to 25 per cent in 1995, but the disparity gap in retention rates for Maori and non-Maori has widened.  Their unemployment rate is three times higher than the non-Maori.  In the late 1980s the Labour Government introduced a policy of devolving power to the Iwi (Tribes) through the Department of Justice, a new Ministry of Maori Affairs and other agencies sensitive to taha Maori (the Maori way of doing things).  The Maori retain only 1.5m ha of freehold land, 5.6 per cent of New Zealand's total and approximately a third of the New Zealand fishing quota.  On 1 October 1996 the Whakatohea people and the Crown signed a Deed of Settlement which included an apology from the government for misdeeds in 1865 when British colonisers confiscated 71 000 ha (708 sq kms) in the eastern Bay of Plenty. The Deed allows for the payment of redress to the value of NZ$40m.  
Seditious liberal activities
New Zealand also takes part in many seditious liberal activities such as the Kyoto Protocol, the UN, and peacekeeping efforts, and did not participate in the totally awesome bad-ass Iraq War. Additionally, although firearms are still legal with a license, New Zealand has strict gun control (by the standards of the United States, though far more lax than Australia or the UK) and almost non-existent gun crime (less than 0.002 gun crime-related deaths per 100,000 people). Go figure, eh? Such rampant seditious activities would be expected to result in many citizens being jailed, and this would be a problem for New Zealand, which has the eighth highest incarceration rate in the OECD. New Zealanders showed their practical bent by abolishing the crime of sedition in 2007  which had the unfortunate side effect of returning many liberals to the community.
During the 1960s New Zealand saw a series of protests on the issue of nuclear weapons. During the late 1970s there was great opposition to visiting United States nuclear warships and French nuclear tests in the Pacific. In 1984, the opposition Labour Party won the election and signed nuclear-free legislation into law, which included a ban on nuclear weapons and visiting nuclear-powered ships were not allowed into New Zealand waters. The Americans tested New Zealand's resolve on this issue by requesting a visit by the USS Buchanan to which the New Zealand government refused. The States then broke off all visible military and intelligence ties with NZ. Needless to say, New Zealand's position with regards to nuclear energy borders on the extreme.
New Zealand's Rainbow Warrior Greenpeace ship had been active in protesting French nuclear tests in the Pacific, much to the consternation of the Great Nuclear Power. In 1987 two French secret service agents
gave the ship what it deserved bombed and sunk the ship while it was moored in Auckland harbour, killing one man. The French agents were caught and sentenced to 10 years each. France then used its European influence to threaten New Zealand's trade in the area, and France boycotted New Zealand products. Not to be outdone, New Zealand boycotted French products, however both countries looked to mediation by the United Nations. The United Nations gave France $13-million fine.
It remains to be seen if New Zealand's position changes when the Chinese invasion fleet appear off its coast, claiming that the country was indisputably part of Chinese territory since ancient times. Be careful what you wish for, for it may come to pass.
New Zealand's anti-nuke legislation still stands and has never been challenged by any successive governments since. Only recently, in the last 15 years, has the United States slowly been rebuilding shared intelligence with New Zealand. The two countries, alongside Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, form an intelligence network known as Five Eyes.
Pro-nuke all along?
The lost continent!
New Zealand is a volcanic creation in just the right place on the Pacific Ring of Fire to well up from a failed rift. Like Iceland but older. However, there is an entire submerged continental shelf it's on called Zealandia. No foolin.' Check that other wiki. New Zealand and New Caledonia are the bits that are visible above water, but it's a (sub)continent all right.
New Zealand cranks
- New Zealand is the new fashionable place for survivalist bunkers for the 1%ers.
- Banana creationist Ray Comfort was born in New Zealand.
- Ken Ring, a crank forecaster for weather and earthquakes by using lunar cycles.
- Trevor Loudon, crank right-wing blogger.
- Steffan Browning, Green Party ex-MP, who thinks homeopathy might be effective against Ebola.
- Russell Crowe, born in NZ, now lives in Australia. Not really a crank, more of an asshat.
- Colin Craig, former leader of the NZ Conservative Party. A seriously strange guy who sexual harrassed his press sec, can't walk like a human and is waaaay more comfortable with his body than anyone else is
Notable New Zealanders
- The Maori people, including actor Temuera Morrison and director Taika Waititi
- Peter Jackson - another film director
- Sir Edmund Hilary - first man to conquer Everest
- Helen Clark - former number three at the UN
- Mike Moore - former head of the WTO
- Lord Ernest Rutherford - discoverer of the atomic nucleus
- Jonah Lomu - the first global superstar of Rugby Union. Lots of other rugby players.
- Phar Lap - A really fast horse
- Flight of the Conchords
- Nicole Kidman, has some connection with the place.
- Lorde - singer-songwriter 
- Eleanor Catton - Man Booker Prize winner and notable critic of neo-liberal economics
Kidding though. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are world-class cities, not bad for a tiny isolated place.
New Zealanders also enjoy a paralytic fear that, at any moment, a huge disaster may happen. This is one of the few cases where such fears are well founded. New Zealand lies on the boundary of two highly active tectonic plates in the Pacific Ring of Fire and earthquakes are common. Wellington has been preparing for the much anticipated "big one" which consequently hit the completely unprepared Christchurch with many aftershocks from 2010 to 2011, causing the deaths of 182 people. Their fears have been further strengthened by another big, albeit less destructive, earthquake in late 2016 with no reported casualties. Meanwhile, Auckland made the deadly mistake of being situated on top of about
5 or 6 56 volcanoes. Got to say, they're asking for trouble.
- Voyage of the Beagle, Chapter 18. 
- Other examples include Wales to England, Portugal to Spain and Finland to Sweden.
- BBC: Why New Zealand is a lifestyle superpower 15 May 2010
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0o4Og8zE2c Jump to 50 secs to see his very awkward approach. Creepy music added for effect
- Metzger, Robert P. (1989). Reagan: American Icon. Norton Critical Editions. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780812213027. http://books.google.com/books?id=xt-2i31DRvEC. Retrieved 4 Oct 16. "Reagan was an officer of the Screen Actors Guild from 1941-1960, including six terms as president from 1947-1952 and in 1959-1960."
- 2013 Census totals by topic
- Statistics New Zealand: QuickStats About Culture and Identity
- TVNZ: Destiny Church town plan draws cult accusations 6 January 2012
- He Kakano: A handbook of Maori health data. Wellington: The Dept., July 1993; See also: New Zealand. Te Puni Kokiri/Ministry of Maori Development. Post-election briefing 1996, Social Policy Branch, pp. 17-23. http://www.tpk.govt.nz (March 1998).
- , Keith et al. op.cit., pp. 5-6; New Zealand. Te Puni Kokiri/Ministry of Maori Development.
- Household labour force survey in: New Zealand. Te Puni Kokiri/Ministry of Maori Development. Post-election briefing 1996, Social Policy Branch, pp. 24-28. http://www.tpk.govt.nz (March 1998).
- New Zealand. Treasury. Estimates of approproations for the Government of New Zealand for the year ending 30 June 1998. Wellington: Treasury Dept, 1997, vol. 2, pp. 255-282.
- New Zealand official yearbook., op.cit., pp. 464-467.
- New Zealand official yearbook, op.cit., p. 154.
- Indigenous Affairs in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States of America, Norway and Sweden
- NationMaster: Murders with firearms (most recent) by country
- Imprisonment rates for OECD countries, May 2011
- Crimes (Repeal of Seditious Offences) Amendment Bill
- See the Wikipedia article on Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.
- Letting off a nuke will cost you a million. And probably mass murder charges.
- Osnos, Evan, "Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich", New Yorker 30 January 2017.
- Carville, Olivia, "The Super Rich of Silicon Valley Have a Doomsday Escape Plan", Bloomberg 5 September 2018.
- Birchall, Guy, "Apocalypse-fearing billionaires are shipping bunkers to New Zealand", NY Post 6 September 2018.