|New Zealand is a perfect example of colonialism. It was nearly 200 years ago that the first Europeans began to settle in New Zealand, most of them were form Britain. In those days, it took several months of hard sea travel to get to this far off land. Many people died on the journey.
New Zealand appears to be very much like its parent - England. New Zealanders speak a type of English similar to that spoken in the UK. The government and legal system are based upon the English model. In the green countryside small towns are scattered here and there along the roadside. To a visitor from outside, it may look a little like England, but a closer look shows that it is certainly not England.
Although the inhabitants speak English, it is an English of their own. E.g. if you say, “Hello” they will probably answer, “G’day Mate!” G’day comes from “Good Day”, a common English greeting form the nineteenth century. Mate was used by the sailors that settled in New Zealand. It may be English they speak, but it is a kind of English from a century ago.
While the green rolling hills may look very much like those in England, New Zealanders are never far from dark, tropical forests, or giant snow covered mountains, or warm, sandy beaches - that you can’t find in England. The many small villages, might appear similar to the English ones, however a closer look shows that the buildings are not brick, but made of wood with iron roofs. None of them are much more older than 100 years.
One of the things they chose not to bring with them was the English “class system”; in the new land everyone was equal. People were paid for how hard they worked, New Zealand women were the first in the world to get the vote and schooling was free for everyone.
Today, New Zealand has a population of less than 3.5 million. Over a million people live in the warmer northern areas around Auckland. Most of the rest live in small to medium sized towns, or on farms in rural areas. There is plenty of space for everyone.
Until recently, farming used to be a very profitable business, and Britain bought a lot of the beef, lamb and dairy products New Zealand produced. But now the UK relies more on Europe as a trading partner. The enormous fall in agricultural trade with Britain has led to hard times for New Zealand’s farmers.
Country life in modern New Zealand is not what it was; and although it may have its advantages; a more relaxed lifestyle ,friendly people, and a wonderful natural environment, most people must go to the cities, like Wellington and Auckland, to get a good job and earn more money.
New Zealanders love to get out and do some sport. Rugby is the national sport, many young New Zealand boys begin playing rugby at the age of five or younger! Most New Zealanders follow the rugby very closely; just about every street of every town is deserted whenever a test match is being played. Everyone is at home in front of the television.
But there are many other sports: skiing, surfing, climbing, cycling, yachting, water rafting or bungee jumping, which are very popular. New Zealanders certainly seem to enjoy themselves in the outdoors.
The Maori people had been in New Zealand for nearly 1000 years when the first white men appeared. They are strong, proud people. The Europeans soon learned that they were a formidable fighting force and that any war against the Maori would be lost. But many English were quick to cheat the Maori out of their land, the government also took huge amounts of land against the will of the Maori owners.
Today the Maori people own just a few scraps of land. But now the New Zealand government wants to change this situation.
Although today the Maori people live like most other New Zealanders, they have not given up all their old customs. They have still their own language and some of the old meeting places where Maori people come together for great discussions that can take several days.
Young people on farms have a lot of freedom, they can always take the horse or motorbike to get away from everyone. From an early age they will help out in the shearing shed or drive the tractor. It is always easy for farm kids to make extra pocket money by working on their parent’s or a neighbor’s farm.
Teenagers in the cities live very much like people elsewhere in the world. They follow many American fashions, they often wear American clothing. Much of the music they listen to comes from America, the UK or Europe. As New Zealand is so far from the rest of the world, not many bands come to play concerts. So they have their own bands.