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New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pacific Islands Forum, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Māori had several traditional names for the two main islands, including Te Ika-a-Māui (the fish of Māui) for the North Island and Te Waipounamu (the waters of greenstone) or Te Waka o Aoraki (the canoe of Aoraki) for the South Island.
The Māori people are most likely descended from people who emigrated from Taiwan to Melanesia and then travelled east through to the Society Islands.
After a pause of 70 to 265 years, a new wave of exploration led to the discovery and settlement of New Zealand.
In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand.
In 1840, representatives of Britain and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands.
The House of Representatives is democratically elected and a government is formed from the party or coalition with the majority of seats.
If no majority is formed, a minority government can be formed if support from other parties during confidence and supply votes is assured. Since the 2014 election, there have been 71 electorates (which includes 7 Māori electorates), and the remaining 49 seats are assigned so that representation in parliament reflects the party vote, although a party has to win one electorate or 5% of the total party vote before it is eligible for these seats.
Today, the majority of New Zealand's population of 4.7 million is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders.
New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometres (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga.
Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans.
) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island (or Te Ika-a-Māui), and the South Island (or Te Waipounamu)—and around 600 smaller islands.
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Between March 2005 and August 2006, New Zealand became the first country in the world in which all the highest offices in the land—Head of State, Governor-General, Prime Minister, Speaker and Chief Justice—were occupied simultaneously by women.