Short for NZ by Abbreviationfinder, New Zealand belongs to the Commonwealth with the British monarch as head of state. Parliament is elected every three years and has certain seats reserved for Maori. The bourgeois Nationalist Party and the Social Democratic Labor have been in power since the 1930s, but a new election system from 1996 has strengthened the small parties.
New Zealand, like Britain, lacks a written constitution. Instead, a mixture of common law, customary law and conventions is applied.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of New Zealand for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
New Zealand is an independent state within the Commonwealth (United Kingdom and former British colonies). The British monarch is the head of state and is represented by a general governor who is appointed on a proposal by the government for five years at a time. The Governor-General has a mainly ceremonial role. The tasks include giving the victorious party an election to form a government and to convene Parliament. The Governor-General, who is now always New Zealander, is also commander-in-chief.
Parliamentary elections are held at least every three years. The voting age is 18 years. The House consists of a Chamber, the House of Representatives, with usually 120 members. Extra seats can be added, as a sort of equalization mandate.
Since 1996, New Zealand has a voting system that is a combination of majority voting and proportional voting. Each voter votes for both a candidate and a party, and can thus support two different parties in the same election. It has favored small parties at the expense of the big ones.
To receive the 50 proportionally distributed mandates, a party must have at least five percent of the vote. Seven mandates are reserved for Maoris. Since 1976, Maoris can vote or stand as candidates in election districts other than their own.
The bourgeois Nationalist Party (New Zealand National Party) and the Social Democratic Labor Party (New Zealand Labor Party) have been in power ever since the 1930s, thus dominating the political scene. However, the new electoral system introduced in 1996 strengthened the influence of the smaller parties.
The Nationalist Party emphasizes free competition and wants the state’s influence over the economy to be as small as possible. The party pushed through huge savings in the welfare system during its tenure in power 1990–1999. After Labor’s record-long holding of power for three terms, the Nationalist Party returned to power in the 2008 election and also won 2011 and 2014.
Labor is the oldest party in the country and has its roots in the 19th century trade union movement. During Labor’s power holdings from 1984 to 1990, extensive liberalization of the economy was made, which caused many of Labor’s traditional voters to abandon the party. Helen Clark’s entry as party leader in 1993 partly meant a return to a more traditional social democratic policy. Although the Nationalist Party received the most votes in the 2017 election, Labor was able to form government with support from the Green Party and New Zealand first.
Green Party (Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand) is heir to the world’s first national Green party, Safe Party, which was formed in 1972. The
right-wing populist New Zealand First (New Zealand First, NZF) led by the charismatic Winston Peters, who in the 1990s left the Nationalist Party. The party is pleading for reduced immigration from Asia, a restriction on foreign investment, better care and reduced taxes. The NZF has traveled in and out of Parliament throughout its existence and has been a part of the government from time to time. After the 2017 election, the party succeeded again in the government.
Among the small parties are the Maori Party (Te Pāti Māori), which was formed in 2004 (see Modern History). Mana was formed in 2011 by Hone Harawira who was excluded from the Maori party because of his criticism of the party leadership. The ACT New Zealand right party (ACT New Zealand) emerged in the 1990s from a taxpayer association. The party advocates, among other things, reduced taxes. United Future New Zealand (United Future New Zealand) was formed in 2002 through a merger of two small bourgeois parties.
The judiciary is based on British traditions. Appeals from the district courts, serious crimes and important civil cases are handled by the High Court and then the Court of Appeal. The highest court is the Supreme Court, which was established in 2004 and then replaced the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.
Violence crime is relatively high, especially in homes where violence against women and children is common. Aga at school was banned in 1989 but at home only in 2007. The
UN has criticized New Zealand for the low age of criminality. Children as young as ten can be convicted of murder or murder, and for other crimes can be punished from the age of 14. The death penalty was abolished in 1989.
New Zealand is one of the world’s least corrupt countries. 2013 was the seventh consecutive year that the country was divided or own first place on the anti-corruption agency Transparency International’s index. But in 2014, the country dropped to second place and 2015 to fourth. In 2016, however, New Zealand returned to first place together with Denmark.
A controversial domestic policy issue is the Maori demands for compensation for land and fishing rights they lost, despite the promises made in connection with the signing of the Waitangi Treaty of 1840 (see Ancient History). When the treaty was written, the Maoris owned 27 million hectares of land, but they lost most of their land to the colonizers.
In 1988, the Maoris owned only 1.5 million hectares but made demands on three-quarters of the country’s land. The Waitangi Tribunal, which was established in 1975, was commissioned from the mid-1980s to review and issue opinions on all reported disputes arising after 1840 and otherwise monitor Moorish affairs. However, the tribunal’s decisions are not binding on the government. There is also a court for disputes relating to Maori land ownership, the Maori Land Court.
An early, symbolically important settlement in the tribunal led to the Maori language becoming official in 1987 alongside the English. In 1992, the Maoris were guaranteed rights to commercial fishing, valued at large sums. In 1995 came the first settlement involving confiscated land. The Tainui people in Waikato were replaced with cash and land seized 130 years earlier, for a total value of 170 million New Zealand dollars (just over SEK 850 million). Queen Elizabeth personally apologized for the confiscation. Similar agreements have subsequently been concluded with several other people.
In 2009, for the first time, a settlement was reached in an intellectual property case. A Moorish tribe received compensation and was guaranteed the right to dance Ka Mate chin, which is traditionally performed by the country’s rugby team before matches. There was a concern among the Maoris for the growing commercialization that arose around the dance.
The payments in fair money exceeded one billion New Zealand dollars in 2009. The agreements have sparked debate about whether this is the most equitable way to return property to the Maori population and how the compensation should be designed to benefit the Maori in the cities as well. The agreements have also been criticized for disregarding the social and cultural consequences of the colonization and Maori demands for increased self-determination. According to a government decision, all targets must be completed by 2020.
In 2011, a law was introduced that allowed Maori and other indigenous people to assert their right to coastal areas and the seabed. Applications with such requirements could be submitted to the government or submitted to court in 2017. New Zealanders have the right to have access to the beach areas by law unless it is about land designated as sacred to the indigenous population. But, for example, Maoris can claim coastal areas and mineral resources as well as pay for companies that conduct commercial activities there.