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Its brief history and geographical characteristics


Country in the Pacific Ocean where people speak English as an official language is New Zealand. New Zealand is a very interesting country. It is located not far from Australia – only the Tasman Sea separates them by a distance of about 1,600 km. New Zealand occupies two large islands - the North Island and the South Island as well as numerous small islands.

New Zealand has a population of 3.8 million people. Many people live in urban areas, and about 50 percent of them live in the largest cities - Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, and Dunedin. The first of them is an important seaport and industrial centre. And Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. It is a financial centre too. The city was founded in 1840 and has been the capital since 1865.

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. New Zealand stays in close association with the United Kingdom as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. And the formal head of the state is the Queen of the United Kingdom.

The New Zealand flag represents the Southern Cross; the stars of it are red with white edgings. The flag of the United Kingdom in the left upper corner shows the recognition to the historical foundations and the fact that New Zealand was once a British colony and dominion.

The National Anthem of New Zealand is "God Defend New Zealand".

The national emblem of New Zealand is a flightless bird kiwi. And silver fern is a sporting emblem.

It may seem 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.

Like Maui, who was in Maori legends a mythical hero who was intelligent, clever, quick and brave, the ancestors of the Maori were skilled navigators. They discovered and settled on many of the Pacific Islands. With their ships like canoes, they could carry a lot of people and plenty of food. They used the stars to find their way across the ocean. They watched the clouds because they knew that clouds close to land look different from the clouds over the sea, and they watched the birds at night as they knew that the birds fly back to land then. Today many people think that a man called Kupe discovered New Zealand by following migrating birds.

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.

The first European who found New Zealand was Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer. That was in 1642. Because of Maori fighters, who attacked Tasman’s ship and killed some of the Dutch sailors, Tasman did not even land. Over 100 years later an English explorer, James Cook, arrived in New Zealand. Cook made several voyages from England to New Zealand and was able to draw the first maps of the country.

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. It is important to remember that New Zealand's climate is maritime, rather than continental, which means the weather, can change with amazing rapidity and consequence.

New Zealand has all the rest: rainforest, desert, fiords, flooded valleys, gorges, plains, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, geothermics, swamps, lakes, braided rivers, peneplains, badlands, and our very own continental plate junction... As a result of the latter, earthquakes are common, though usually not severe.

New Zealand is known for its unusual birds. Many of them cannot fly!


Exercise 2.Answer the questions

1) What is the geographical position of NZ?

2) What is the political system in NZ? Who is the head of the state?

3) What are the national symbols of NZ?


Exercise 3. Study the article about New Zealand (Speak out 2007 1/59) and discuss the following points

  • Does NZ seem to you a paradise? Prove your opinion
  • What would attract you most in this country?
  • Have you been to other countries? Would you like to visit NZ? Would your wish be strong enough for you to be ready to do it?


Text 2

Read the text about some features of the NZ culture and say what facts surprised or interested you.


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