Kia Ora/Hello from New Zealand!
- New Zealand is found in the Southwest Pacific Ocean and is made of the North Island and the South Island plus 600 smaller islands!
- 4.6 million people live in New Zealand.
- The capital is Wellington.
- The Māori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa. This translates into “land of the long white cloud.”
- The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was filmed all around New Zealand. Over 150 real-world locations were used for key scenes, including Mordor, Hobbiton, Rivendell and more.
- At the Mt John Observatory you can see the clear starlit skies in the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve.
- Samoa is technically the first country to welcome the new day. However, thanks to the curvature of the Earth, the North Island city of Gisborne on the East Coast is the first to see the actual sunrise!
- New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote in 1893.
LET’S TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND
Join Warwick, a current resident of Ypsilanti who was born in New Zealand, on a virtual tour of this beautiful country, from the mountains and fjords to golden beaches and quiet bays.
LANGUAGES OF NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand, steeped in culture and history, is home to the Māori, European, Pacific Island, and Asian cultures. It has three official languages: English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language.
Listen and watch the New Zealand National Anthem in all three!
From 1320-1350, the first waves of Māori inhabitants crossed thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean in small canoes and have since been a core part of the culture of New Zealand. Hear some Māori words, learn the alphabet, and count to 10!
KIWI BIRD, THE NATIONAL BIRD OF NEW ZEALAND
The kiwi bird, with its pear shaped body, long pointy beak and long legs, is a native bird to New Zealand. A nocturnal (meaning it’s awake at night) bird that cannot fly, it is not really sure how Kiwi’s arrived in New Zealand.
Sadly, because they cannot fly and have a strong smell, they are vulnerable to predators such as dogs, cats, rats, weasels and stoat (also known as ermine), which have been introduced to the islands. These predators, combined with human habitation and farming taking away their natural forest habitat and early hunting/trapping, have dramatically decreased the kiwi’s population to the point of a dangerous possibility of extinction.
If you visit New Zealand’s Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third largest island, you can see a large variety of birds including kiwis as you walk!
Follow the instructions to make a kiwi finger puppet! Use felt, or even brown paper you cut from a bag.
THE MĀORI PEOPLE
The Māori people, who are of Eastern Polynesian descent, arrived in New Zealand in the 14th century, long before the British landed upon and colonized the islands some 500 years later. With over 750,000 Māori still living in New Zealand today, they make up roughly 16.5% of the island nation’s total inhabitants and their rich history and cultural impact is huge to New Zealand’s national identify.
Whakairo is the Māori art of carving. Rather than purely being decorative, whakairo (Māori carvings) each give a unique narrative. The stories passed down through generations explain cultural traditions and tribal history. Commonly used materials include wood, pounamu (greenstone), and whale bone or ivory.
Make your own “bone carving” necklace from clay, similar to the ones worn by the Māori in New Zealand.
Much of the Māori art style is based around motifs like the spiral and koru. The koru is a spiral symbol that literally means “loop” or “coil” in the Māori language, and it stems from the natural unfurling of the silver fern (the national symbol of New Zealand). This can also be seen below. Do you see the similarities between the carving and the silver fern to the left?
In the Māori culture, the unfurling silver fern represents growth, strength and peace. Consider parts of you that represent these three ideals. It could be an aspect of your personality or even a specific story you’d like to share. For instance, “strength” could be represented by a time you stood up for yourself or another time where you were emotionally or even physically strong. Then follow the steps to complete your koru designs. Click the buttons to get started. (This activity works best if you print out the koru writing template if you have a printer available.)
THE HAKA DANCE
Haka is a traditional war dance historically performed on the battlefield. It is a dramatic display of strength and pride once used to scare their enemies and includes much stomping, exaggerated wide eyes and extending of tongue, which were acts of defiance against their enemy.
In today’s society, the Haka is used in celebrations and funerals, to show honor or to welcome guests and family.
MAORI IN FILM AND BOOKS
GO OUTSIDE FOR A WELLY WANGING COMPETITION
Welly Wanging is a New Zealand sport where you throw a “welly” or Wellington rainboot as far as you can. The distance is then measured and the competitor who threw it the farthest is the winner.
On their visit to New Zealand in 2018, even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took a turn at throwing the welly!
Super simple game and lots of fun! Gather up your family and have your own Welly Wanging competition!
Desserts of New Zealand! So many wonderfully delicious and unique desserts can be found in New Zealand. Explore some of these culinary creations, from Hokey Pokey Ice Cream to the elegant Pavlova.
MAKE ANZAC BISCUITS
These biscuits have an interesting and important history dating tying to World War I. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and it is said that the wives and women’s groups would make and send these biscuits to the soldiers overseas because they were hearty and would not spoil easily in transportation.
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 Cup Coconut
- 1 Cup Rolled Oats
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- ½ Cup Butter
- 2 Tbsp Golden Syrup
- 2 Tbsp Water
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
Mix together the flour, coconut, rolled oats, and salt in a medium size mixing bowl. Melt the butter, golden syrup, and water together in a small saucepan. Add the baking soda to the butter mixture and mix together until combined, the mixture should froth up. Pour the frothy butter mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients along with the cup of brown sugar. Mix together until combined.
Roll out 1-2 tablespoon sized balls of dough and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper leaving room around each to spread and bake in a 320 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the edges. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.