A collection of questions we get asked.
As we all know, the location of a country influences it's culture, beliefs, religions, art, politics and how it views the world.
This response describes how it feels to be located in this relatively small country located at the bottom of the South Pacific and hopefully provide insights to where New Zealand is and it's place in the world.
An important geographic influence lies to the north of the country, the thousands of islands of the South Pacific of which Fiji, the Cook Islands, Western Samoa, and New Caledonia are examples. Most are just a 3 hour flight away.
They are populated by Polynesian and Melanesian peoples and many of them emigrate to New Zealand to find work, the reason that Auckland is the biggest Polynesian city in the world. They bring a joy for life and make a positive contribution to New Zealand society. Many are deeply religious and many have succeeded brilliantly in commerce, law and science.
To the west, a three hour flight away, is Australia where around 400,000 New Zealanders also live, drawn there by work opportunities. Australia its the biggest vacation destination for New Zealanders based primarily on it's colorful and eclectic mix of cultures, outstanding beaches and scenery. Behind the banter and the competitiveness between New Zealand and Australia lie deep bonds of friendship.
The southern-most city is Invercargill and the next stop south of the city is the massive continent of Antarctica. Because so many expeditions to Antarctica have set off from New Zealand over the past century and earlier, there is a feeling of connection with this great white frozen continent.
Today this bond is maintained by the US Deep Freeze logistics program based at Christchurch Airport in the South Island. From here, every summer, the US resupplies the American base at McMurdo Sound, some 2,400 miles to the south.
To the east of New Zealand lies the huge Pacific Ocean, spreading to the distant shores of South America. Direct flights between New Zealand and Peru and Argentina have seen the relationship with South America grow, but the perception remains that these are far away places.
Beyond the immediate neighbors of the Pacific Islands and Australia lie Asia and the United States. China has become a major importer of New Zealand milk products and New Zealand has become popular with many Chinese as a place to invest, visit and live.
Ties with the United States remain strong and run deep, based on shared values, a belief in democratic principles and a comradeship forged in times of war, particularly the terrible Pacific battles of WW2.
Finally there is Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, the place from where most New Zealanders originated. Their influence on New Zealand culture is not what it once was, as New Zealanders become more confident about forging an identity that more accurately represents their own unique beliefs and behaviors.