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New zealand - land of the kiwi

0.1 Introduction Surrounded by the huge Pacific Ocean, New Zealand lies far away from other countries. The nearest country is Australia and that is 1600 km away. The country which is as large as Germany has a population of only 3 ¼ million. It seems unbelievable that early Polynesian explorers, many centuries before the first Europeans came here, found this land at all. These early explorers were the early ancestors of the Maori.

0.1.1 The first settlers

The first Polynesian who arrived at New Zealand about 1000 years ago were hunters. They moved from place to place and lived on fish, birds and fruit. Later they settled in villages and grew sweet potatoes and other plants in gardens. As the population became larger and fertile land became important, tribes began to fight over the land. To defend themselves, they built villages on hills, which they protected by fences and called 'pa'.

Although there were names for the individual tribes, before the Europeans came there was no name for the first New Zealanders. The word 'maori', which means ordinary or normal, was only used after the Europeans arrived.
Most Maori welcomed the first Europeans and traded with them. They were happy to have tools made of metal. Some Europeans were missionaries who wanted the Maori to be Christians. When the missionaries turned Maori, which had been an oral language so far, into a written language, many Maori in fact became Christians simply because they wanted to learn to read and write. Unfortunately, the Europeans also brought illnesses, alcohol and guns. Because of these things, the Maori population became smaller. When the tribes fought each other with guns, many more of them were killed.

0.1.2 The invasion of the Europeans

Not all of the first Europeans came to stay. Some came to hunt for seals and whales, others to find gold or take back flax and wood.

Most people who came to settle on farms did not know what they had to expect. Some were told that once they had cleared the land of trees, they would be given land for farms. But they had no idea what New Zealand bush was like. It was very hard to clear the land without machines to help them. People often had accidents or got lost in the bush and were never found.

The women settlers were hard-working and independent. Some women came to New Zealand on their own. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote, which was in 1863.

0.1.3 The Treaty of Waitangi

In 1840, a treaty was signed between the Maori and the Queen of Great Britain, called the Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty is an important part of New Zealand history as it made New Zealand a British colony. There is still a lot of discussion about it and people disagree about its meaning. One reason for this is that the Maori translation which the chiefs signed is different from the English. The chiefs did not realize that they were giving their full powers to the Queen, but thought they would have the same rights as British people, and that their land would be protected. Some chiefs did not sign at all because they were suspicious of the treaty. Those chiefs that actually signed were given two blankets each and some tobacco. Although the treaty said that the Maori would remain owners of their land, once it was signed the British tried to get as much land as possible.

0.1.4 The Maori struggled for their land

Many immigrants came to New Zealand because they expected to be able to buy cheap land. Some settlers simply took land which was not being used by the Maori for farming. Others bought land for small amounts of money and some paid only one member of the tribe for land that was owned by the whole tribe. When the Maori realized that the promises that were made to them were not kept, they started to defend their land. Wars between colonists and Maori were the result - and these wars gave the British government an excuse to take even more land. The government also made laws which made it easier for them to take, buy or control Maori land. Many Maori thought that what was happening was the opposite of what the treaty said. Over the 150 years since it was signed, the Maori have struggled to keep their land.

0.1.5 Maori today

Today the Maori still have many problems. They are often poorer than the Pakeha. Pakeha is the name of the white inhabitants of New Zealand. Many of then Maori had to leave their land and go to the cities to find jobs. There they found it hard to keep their language and culture alive. Although the Maori have solved some of these problems themselves, they are now a minority and still don't have the political power to control their own future.

0.1.6 God´s own country

The money that New Zealand earned from farming was used to help other New Zealanders in the 1930s. Old people were given pensions. Visits to doctors and hospitals were free for everyone and cheap houses were made available. Life was made easier for many people.

Later, when there were plenty of jobs, it became popular to describe New Zealand as 'God´s own country'. 'God´s own' sounded like 'Godzone' and this name is still used as a joke by New Zealanders, although New Zealand is no longer such a rich country.

0.1.7 Dumping of nuclear waste

Since the Second World War, there have been about 200 nuclear explosions in the Pacific region. Although Britain and the USA have stopped testing their nuclear weapons here, France continues to test in the Pacific. Since 1975, these tests have been underground. Many New Zealanders are worried about the effect of these nuclear tests on the environment.

Since 1985 nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered ships have not been allowed into New Zealand harbours. When a visit by the United States warship was refused, the relationship between the two countries, which before had always been friendly, was affected.

0.2 Some call it paradise

Almost everywhere the scenery is beautiful. The weather is sunny, but not too hot - even in winter it only snows in the mountains. No matter where you live in this country, you are always close to the sea. There are many empty beaches along the rocky coastline and a lot of small islands in the sea that are home to birds and seals only. Some islands are nature reserves and people must have permission to visit them. No wonder that New Zealand seems like paradise to many people.

0.2.1 Different landscapes

In part of the North Island is one of the world´s most active volcanic zones. There are geysers which can blow water up to 30m high. There are many extinct volcanoes in New Zealand, too. The city of Auckland is built on old volcanoes. New Zealand´s largest lake, Lake Taupo, is the crater of a volcano. The South Island is divided by a mountain group called the Southern Alps. Here is Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, which is over 3700m high. A number of glaciers can be found in the Southern Mountains.

0.2.2 Outdoor activities

The long coast and the many lakes, rivers and harbours are perfect for water sports. Kiwis enjoy sailing, diving, water-skiing, windsurfing and fishing.

0.2.3 Some New Zealand animals

New Zealand is known for its unusual birds. Many of them cannot fly! Before the Europeans came to the country, New Zealand used to have many more unusual birds that did not live anywhere else. The European settlers, however, did a lot of damage to the bird population. They cut down much of the forests in which the birds lived and they brought cats, rats and other animals which killed many birds. Some species did not survive. Even today, when people try to save birds species, 30 percent of the birds are in danger of dying out.

New Zealanders are often called Kiwis, yet very few have ever seen a kiwi outdoors. This is because these flightless birds live in the bush and only come out at night.
Several kinds of parrots live here. The kakapo, another flightless bird, is the heaviest parrot in the world. Only 60 of these birds are now alive. The kea is a parrot which lives in the mountains. Most tourists think that the keas are funny, but they need to keep an eye on these birds. Keas steal things from open tents and destroy things like windscreen wipers.
But it is not only birds that are typical of New Zealand. There are seals, sea-lions, dolphins, whales and many kinds of fish that live in the sea surrounding the islands; the so-called Hector´s dolphins are only found here.
New Zealanders are thankful that there are no snakes living here. The only poisonous animal is the katipo spider and very few people have ever been bitten.

0.2.4 Paradise in danger

Because New Zealand has such a small population, pollution has often been ignored. Raw sewage in many places still goes into the sea and only recently has attention been drawn to the dumping of harmful chemicals (nuclear waste).
Another problem is that many tourists come to New Zealand because of the untouched nature. But the environment of New Zealand is polluted by these tourists.

0.3 Kiwi - 3 definitions:

1. Name for a New Zealander
2. A flightless bird

3. The fruit

0.4 Vocabulary

affect beeinflussen, betreffen

ancestor Vorfahr, Ahn
blanket Wolldecke

Christians Christ/in, christlich
Dutch holländisch

fertile fruchtbar
geysers geogr. Geysir

glacier Gletscher
glow worm Glühwurm

hatch ausbrüten
logging Hollfällen

migrate auswandern
mining Bergbau

parrot Papagei
permission Erlaubnis

plenty eine Menge, Fülle
Polynesian Polynesier/in, polynesisch

raw sewage unbearbeitet Abwässer
refuse abschlagen, verweigern

stranger Fremde
suspicious mißtrauisch

upset verwirren, beunruhigen
voyages längere Luft- oder Seereise
windscreen wipers Scheibenwischer



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