Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
Official Name: New Zealand
Area: 270,534 sq. km. (104,440 sq. mi.); about the size of Colorado.
Cities: Capital--Wellington (326,900). Other cities--Auckland (910,200), Christchurch (312,600).
Terrain: Highly varied, from snow-capped mountains to lowland plains.
Climate: Temperate to subtropical.
Nationality: Noun--New Zealander(s). Adjective--New Zealand.
Population: 3.6 million.
Annual growth rate: 1.1%.
Ethnic groups: European 80%, Maori 10%, other Polynesian 4%.
Religions: Anglican 22%, Presbyterian 16%, Roman Catholic 15%.
Languages: English, Maori.
Education: Years compulsory--ages 6-16. Attendance--100%. Literacy--99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--8.3/1,000. Life expectancy--males 73 yrs., females 79 yrs.
Work force (1.6 million): Services and government--45%. Industry and commerce--44%. Agriculture and mining--11%.
Constitution: No formal, written constitution.
Independence: Declared a dominion in 1907.
Branches: Executive--Queen Elizabeth II (chief of state, represented by a governor general), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative--unicameral House of Representatives, commonly called parliament. Judicial--three-level system: District Courts, the High Court, and the Court of Appeals, with further appeal possible to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. There are also specialized courts, such as employment court, family courts, youth courts, and the Maori Land Court.
Administrative subdivisions: 12 regions with directly elected councils and 74 districts (15 of which are designated as cities) with elected councils. There are also a number of community boards and special-purpose bodies with partially elected, partially appointed memberships.
Political parties: National, Labor, the Alliance, New Zealand First, and several smaller parties.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (1996): $59.4 billion.
Real annual GDP growth rate (1996): 2.8%.
Per capita income (1996): $16,281.
Natural resources: Natural gas, iron sand, coal, timber.
Agriculture (10% of GDP): Products--wool, meat, dairy products, forestry products.
Industry (38% of GDP): Types--food processing, textiles, machinery, transport equipment, fish, forestry products.
Trade (1996): Exports--$13.6 billion: meat, dairy products, manufactured products, forest products, fish, fruit and vegetables, wool. Major markets--Australia, Japan, U.S., U.K. Imports--$13 billion: machinery, manufactured goods, transportation equipment, chemicals, mineral fuels. Major suppliers--Australia, U.S., Japan, U.K.
U.S.-NEW ZEALAND RELATIONS
Bilateral relations in areas outside the security sphere are excellent. The U.S. and New Zealand share common elements of history and culture and a commitment to democratic principles. Senior-level officials regularly consult with each other on issues of mutual importance. Prime Minister Jim Bolger and President Clinton have met on several occasions, including at the White House in March 1995.
New Zealand's relationship with the United States in the post-World War II period was closely associated with the Australian, New Zealand, United States (ANZUS) security treaty of 1951, under which signatories agreed to consult in case of an attack in the Pacific and to "act to meet the common danger." During the postwar period, access to New Zealand ports by U.S. vessels contributed significantly to the flexibility and effectiveness of U.S. naval forces in the Pacific.
Growing concern about nuclear and arms control issues contributed to the 1984 election of a Labor government committed to barring nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered warships from New Zealand ports. The Labor government's anti-nuclear policy proved incompatible with a long-standing, worldwide U.S. policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence or absence of nuclear weapons on board U.S. vessels. Moreover, labor policy, subsequently enacted as legislation, also prohibits visits by nuclear-powered ships.
Implementation of New Zealand's policy effectively prevented practical alliance cooperation under ANZUS. After extensive efforts to resolve the issue proved unsuccessful, in August 1986 the United States suspended its ANZUS security obligations to New Zealand. The United States would welcome New Zealand's reassessment of its legislation to permit that country's return to full ANZUS cooperation.
Despite suspension of U.S. security obligations, the New Zealand Government has reaffirmed the importance it attaches to continued close political, economic, and social ties with the United States and Australia. In trade, the United States is New Zealand's third-largest supplier and customer, after Australia and Japan. Total bilateral trade for 1996 was $3.5 billion (with a $300-million surplus in favor of the U.S.). U.S. merchandise exports to New Zealand were $1.9 billion, with New Zealand exports to the U.S. totaling $1.6 billion. U.S. direct foreign investment in New Zealand (as of 1996) totals $4.8 billion, largely concentrated in manufacturing, forestry, telecommunication services, and finance.
New Zealand has worked closely with the U.S. to promote free trade in the GATT/WTO, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), and other multilateral forums. The U.S. and New Zealand hold high-level trade and investment meetings annually.
The United States maintains seven scientific bases in Antarctica. The National Science Foundation's Antarctic Program, supported by the U.S. Navy's Operation Deep Freeze, is headquartered in Christchurch. The New Zealand Government has been cooperative in allowing the use of support facilities in Christchurch as staging areas. In return, the United States provides transport and logistical support for New Zealand's year-round Scott Base at McMurdo Sound and its summer field research programs.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Josiah H. Beeman
Deputy Chief of Mission--Morton Dworken
Political and Economic Counselor--Karen Krueger
Agricultural Attache--Gary Myers
Defense Attache--Capt. John Langer, USN
Public Affairs Officer--Frank Huffman
Administrative Officer--Boyd Doty
Consul (Auckland)--Michael Thurston
Senior Commercial Officer (Auckland)--M. Philip Gates
The U.S. embassy in New Zealand is located at 29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington (tel. 64-4-472-2068, fax 64-4-471-2380); the U.S. Consulate General is located on the 4th Floor, Yorkshire General Building, corner of Shortland and O'Connell Streets, Auckland (tel. 64-4-303-2724, fax 64-4-366-0870).
For information on foreign economic trends, commercial development, production, trade regulations, and tariff rates, contact the Bureau of Export Development, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230. This information also is available from any Commerce Department district office.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
New Zealand has a parliamentary system of government closely patterned on that of the United Kingdom and is a fully independent member of the Commonwealth. It has no written constitution.
Executive authority is vested in a cabinet led by the prime minister, who is the leader of the political party or coalition of parties holding the majority of seats in parliament. All cabinet ministers must be members of parliament and are collectively responsible to it.
The unicameral parliament (House of Representatives) has 99 seats, 4 of which currently are reserved for Maoris elected on a separate Maori roll. However, Maoris also may run for and have been elected to regular seats. Parliaments are elected for a maximum term of 3 years, although elections can be called sooner.
The judiciary consists of the Court of Appeals, the High Court, and the District Courts. New Zealand law has three principal sources--English common law, certain statutes of the U.K. Parliament enacted before 1947, and statutes of the New Zealand Parliament. In interpreting common law, the courts have been concerned with preserving uniformity with common law as interpreted in the United Kingdom. This uniformity is ensured by the maintenance of the Privy Council in London as the final court of appeal and by judges' practice of following British decisions, even though, technically, they are not bound by them.
Local government in New Zealand has only the powers conferred upon it by parliament. The country's 12 regional councils are directly elected, set their own tax rates, and have a chairman elected by their members. Regional council responsibilities include environmental management, regional aspects of civil defense, and transportation planning. The 74 "territorial authorities"--15 city councils, 58 district councils in rural areas, and 1 county council for the Chatham Islands--are directly elected, raise local taxes at rates they themselves set, and are headed by popularly elected mayors. The territorial authorities may delegate powers to local community boards, which currently number 155. These boards, instituted at the initiative of either local citizens or the territorial authorities, advocate community views but cannot levy taxes, appoint staff, or own property.
The conservative National Party and left-leaning Labor Party have dominated New Zealand political life since a Labor government came to power in 1935. During 14 years in office, the Labor Party implemented a broad array of social and economic legislation, including comprehensive social security, a large-scale public works program, a 40-hour workweek, a minimum basic wage, and compulsory unionism. The National Party won control of the government in 1949 and adopted many welfare measures instituted by the Labor Party. Except for two brief periods of Labor governments in 1957-60 and 1972-75, National held power until 1984. After regaining control in 1984, the Labor government instituted a series of radical market-oriented reforms in response to New Zealand's mounting external debt.
In October 1990, the National Party was again elected, capturing 67 of 97 parliamentary seats in a landslide victory. To the disappointment of some supporters, National continued the economic reforms introduced by Labor. National was narrowly reelected in November 1993. Two seats each were won by two new opposition parties, the Alliance and New Zealand First. In a simultaneous referendum, New Zealanders changed their electoral system to a form of proportional representation designed to give smaller parties a larger voice in parliament. This ended several years of public debate fueled by resentment over the ability of government to take unpopular measures with only a plurality of popular support. The October 1996 elections were the first under the new system, but no political party won enough votes to control Parliament.
In December 1996, Prime Minister Jim Bolger's National Party (44 seats) formed a 61-seat majority coalition with Winston Peters' New Zealand First Party (17 seats). Helen Clark's Labor Party (37 seats) leads the opposition. In response to a steep drop in the popularity of the coalition and its policies, Transport Minister Jenny Shipley led a successful challenge within the National Party, and Bolger agreed to resign as Prime Minister and National Party leader. Bolger will step down by the end of November 1997, but it remains to be seen whether coalition partner New Zealand First will continue the coalition or whether new Prime Minister Shipley will lead a minority National Party government.
Principal Government Officials
Chief of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--His Excellency Sir Michael Hardie Boys
Prime Minister--James Bolger
Ambassador to the United States--John Wood
Ambassador to the United Nations--Michael Powles
New Zealand maintains an embassy in the United States at 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-328-4800, fax 202-667-5227). A consulate general is located in Los Angeles (tel. 310-207-1605, fax 310-207-3605). Tourism information is available through the New Zealand Tourism Board office in Santa Monica, California (toll-free tel. 800-388-5494).
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on immigration practices, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is required). The CABB also carries international security information from the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at (404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov.
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information.
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