New Zealand ( : Māori Aotearoa ) is a [aɔˈtɛaɾɔa] sovereign in the southwestern island country . The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the Pacific Ocean ( North Island Te Ika-a-Māui), and the ( South Island Te Waipounamu)—and around 600 . New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometres (900 mi) east of smaller islands across the Australia and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Tasman Sea of Pacific island areas , New Caledonia , and Fiji . Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct Tonga of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the biodiversity , owe much to the Southern Alps of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's tectonic uplift is capital city , while its most populous city is Wellington . Auckland
Sometime between 1250 and 1300,
settled in the islands that later were named New Zealand and developed a distinctive Polynesians . In 1642, Dutch explorer Māori culture became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Abel Tasman chiefs signed the Māori , which declared British sovereignty over the islands. In 1841, New Zealand Treaty of Waitangi within the became a colony and in 1907 it British Empire ; it gained became a Dominion in 1947, but the British monarch remained the full independence . Today, the majority of head of state of 4.7 million is of New Zealand's population ; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by European descent and Asians . Reflecting this, Pacific Islanders is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased New Zealand's culture . The immigration are official languages , English and Māori , with English being very dominant. NZ Sign Language
New Zealand is a
and developed country in international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, and economic freedom. The country underwent ranks highly during the 1980s, which transformed it from a major economic changes to a protectionist liberalised economy. The service sector dominates the free-trade , followed by the industrial sector, and national economy . International agriculture is a significant source of revenue. tourism
Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected,
unicameral , while executive political power is exercised by the Parliament , led by the Cabinet , who is currently Prime Minister . Jacinda Ardern is the country's head of state and is represented by a Queen Elizabeth II , currently governor-general . In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 Dame Patsy Reddy and 67 regional councils for local government purposes. The territorial authorities also includes Realm of New Zealand (a Tokelau ); the dependent territory and Cook Islands (self-governing states in Niue with New Zealand); and the free association , which is New Zealand's Ross Dependency . New Zealand is a member of the territorial claim in Antarctica , United Nations , Commonwealth of Nations , ANZUS , Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development , ASEAN Plus mechanism , and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation . Pacific Islands Forum
Detail from a 1657 map showing the western coastline of "Nova Zeelandia"
explorer Abel Tasman sighted New Zealand in 1642 and named it Dutch Staten Land "in honour of the " (Dutch parliament). He wrote, "it is possible that this land joins to the Staten Land but it is uncertain", States General referring to  at the southern tip of South America, discovered by a landmass of the same name in 1616. Jacob Le Maire  In 1645, Dutch  renamed the land cartographers Nova Zeelandia after the of Dutch province . Zeeland  British explorer  subsequently James Cook the name to New Zealand. anglicised
(pronounced Aotearoa /; often translated as "land of the long white cloud") is the current Māori name for New Zealand. It is unknown whether Māori had a name for the whole country before the arrival of Europeans, with Aotearoa originally referring to just the . Māori had several traditional names for the two main islands, including North Island Te Ika-a-Māui (the fish of ) for the North Island and Māui Te Waipounamu (the waters of ) or greenstone Te Waka o Aoraki (the canoe of ) for the Aoraki . Early European maps labelled the islands North (North Island), Middle (South Island) and South ( South Island ). Stewart Island / Rakiura In 1830, maps began to use North and South to distinguish the two largest islands and by 1907 this was the accepted norm.  The  discovered in 2009 that the names of the North Island and South Island had never been formalised, and names and alternative names were formalised in 2013. This set the names as North Island or Te Ika-a-Māui, and South Island or Te Waipounamu. New Zealand Geographic Board For each island, either its English or Māori name can be used, or both can be used together.