Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/New Zealand

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NEW ZEALAND, a dominion of the British empire, consisting of a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, two large islands, called North and South (or Middle) Islands, and a third of comparatively insignificant size, Stewart Island; length of the group, N. to S., about 1,000 miles; area, 104,471 square miles. Pop. (1918) estimated 1,106,677, besides about 45,000 Maoris. Capital, Wellington, in North Island; other chief cities: Dunedin, Auckland, Christchurch.

North Island, the N. one of the group, and separated from South Island by Cook's Strait, which, where narrowest, is about 23 miles wide, is very irregular in shape, and much broken by deep bays and projecting headlands. Its area is estimated at 44,468 square miles. The main body of the island, as well as its peninsulas, has for the most part an exceedingly rugged and mountainous surface; and besides being traversed from S. to N. by chains of mountains reaching a height of 6,000 feet, presents a number of lofty isolated volcanic peaks, among which the most conspicuous are Tongariro (6,500 feet) occasionally active, and Ruapehu (9,195 feet), and Mount Egmont (8,300 feet), extinct volcanoes. The coast line of North Island contains many excellent natural harbors, especially those of Wellington on Cook's Strait, and of Auckland on the Isthmus of the N. projection. The chief indentations are Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty in the N. E.; Hawke's Bay in the E.; South Taranaki Bight in the S. W. The streams are extremely numerous, but are mostly mere torrents, which bring down immense deposits of shingle. The largest of the rivers are the Waikato (200 miles) and the Wanganui (about 120). Most of the streams have their sources in lakes embosomed among mountains covered with magnificent forests. The largest of all the lakes is Taupo, situated near the center of the island, about 36 miles long by 25 miles broad. To the N. E. occur a number of lakes, familiarly known as the “Hot Lakes,” there being here hot springs and other volcanic phenomena.

South Island is of a much more compact and regular form; area, about 58,525 square miles. With exception of the N. coast, the S. W. coast, and a remarkable spur on the E. coast called Bank's Peninsula, the coast line is very continuous. On the N. coast, from Cape Farewell to Cape Campbell, are numerous good harbors: in the S. W. are a series of narrow fiords. South Island is traversed from N. to S. by a lofty central mountain chain, which has an average height of about 8,000 feet; while Mount Cook, near the W. coast, the culminating point of New Zealand, is 13,200 feet high. Among these mountains are glaciers of great size, stretching down on the S. W. almost to the sea. Along the E. coast several extensive plains exist. The largest river is the Clutha, which has a course of 150 miles, and enters the sea near the S. E. angle of the island. The largest lakes are Wakatipu and Te Anau, covering 114 and 132 square miles respectively.

Stewart Island is separated from South Island by Foveaux Strait, about 15 miles wide. It has an area of 665 square miles. A great number of smaller islands belong to the New Zealand group. The Chatham Islands and Kermadec Islands are outlying dependencies.

Minerals and Natural Productions. — New Zealand is rich in minerals. Coal is abundant; iron, tin, silver, and copper are also found in various regions. Gold, discovered in 1861, is worked both in North and South Islands. The out- put in 1917 was valued at £165,299. The climate is very varied, though remarkably healthful. In temperature it resembles France and north Italy, but the humidity is considerably greater. Rapid changes are a notable feature of the weather. Among vegetable productions the most characteristic are the ferns (130 different species), which form almost the only vegetation over immense districts. Some of them are more than 30 feet high, and remarkable for the elegance of their forms. The flax plant furnishes an article of export. A number of the forest trees furnish valuable timber. Among others is the kauri or damar pine. Flowering plants are remarkably scarce, and there are no indigenous fruits. The colony produces every English grain, grass, fruit, and vegetable. In animals New Zealand is singularly deficient, only a sort of dog (now extinct), a rat, and two species of bats being indigenous. Rabbits have been introduced and have multiplied so as to become a perfect pest; pigs now run wild, as well as cats. Pheasants, partridges, quails, and red and fallow deer have also been successfully introduced. All the common European quadrupeds appear to be easily acclimatized. Pigeons and parrots are the most common native birds. Among others are the apteryx (a wingless bird), the huia or parson-bird, and the owl parrot. The gigantic moa is now extinct. The chief reptiles are a few lizards. The coast teems with fish, and seals are still numerous in some parts. The original natives of New Zealand, a people of Polynesian origin, are called Maoris. Their numbers have been so reduced by internecine feuds that they do not now exceed 40,000, all of whom, with the exception of a few hundreds, are located in the North Island. By missionary efforts a great part of them have been converted to Christianity. They have acquired in many instances considerable property in stock, cultivated lands, etc., and in the neighborhood of the settlements they are adopting European dress and habits.

Government and Education.—By the constitution the crown appoints the governor; but the legislative power is vested in the General Assembly, or Parliament of two houses — a Legislative Council consisting of 43 members nominated by the crown for life; and a House of Representatives, which is made up of 80 members, elected by the people for three years. Women have the right of suffrage. The governor is aided and advised by a ministry comprising the chief officers of state, who are members of the General Assembly. By the act passed by the assembly in 1875, which abolished the provincial system, the powers previously exercised by superintendents and provincial officers were delegated to county councils or vested in the governor. The civil and criminal laws are the same as those of England. For colonial defense a number of volunteers have been enrolled (about 8,500); the chief ports are also being put in a state of defense. There is no State-aided Church, but most Christian sects are well provided for. The Church of England is most numerously represented. Elementary education is free, secular, and compulsory. Secondary education is provided for in numerous high schools, grammar schools, colleges, etc. At the head of the higher education is the University of New Zealand, an examining body empowered to grant honors, degrees, and scholarships. Affiliated to it are several colleges throughout the colony. There is also a separate university at Dunedin. There are training colleges for teachers, theological colleges, etc.

Industry and Commerce. — Stock-rearing and agriculture are the most important industries, though mining is also an important occupation. There are about 30,000,000 sheep in the colony, and liy far the most important export is wool ($60,000,000 annually).

In 1917 the area planted with crops was 16,906,672 acres. There were raised in 1918, 6,761,000 bushels of wheat, 4,785,000 bushels of oats, 572,000 bushels of barley. During the progress of the World War New Zealand was prosperous industrially. The foreign trade in 1918 amounted to $256,500,761. The imports were $117,934,488 and the exports $138,566,273. The chief articles of export were wool, meat, cheese, and butter. In 1917, 543 vessels with a tonnage of 1,405,766 entered the ports of the dominion.

Labor Legislation. — New Zealand was a pioneer state in exacting measures tending toward state socialism — e. g., income and unimproved land tax, 1891; subdivision of pastoral estates, 1893; compulsory conciliation and arbitration, 1894; old-age pensions, 1898. Widows, war veterans, and phthisical miners are also pensioned.

History. — New Zealand was discovered by Tasman in 1642, but little was known of it till the visits of Cook in 1769 and 1774. The first permanent settlement was made by missionaries in 1815. In 1833, a resident was appointed, with limited powers, and subordinate to the government of New South Wales. In 1840 New Zealand was erected into a colony; in 1841 it was formally separated from New South Wales and placed under its own independent governor; and in 1852 it received a constitution and responsible government. In 1865 the seat of government was removed from Auckland to Wellington. In 1873 the public works policy was inaugurated, and large loans were raised for immigration, harbors, railways, roads, etc. In 1876 the provinces were abolished; the colony was divided into 63 counties, and all government centralized at Wellington.

New Zealand furnished over 100,000 men in the World War. Of these nearly 15,000 were killed. The total casualties were over 52,000. New Zealand troops distinguished themselves wherever they were engaged and took an especially prominent part in the operations in the Dardanelles, where, with the Australian troops, they were called Anzacs. Conscription was introduced in 1916.

 Copyright, L. L. Poates Eng. Co., 1921