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Top 10 Amazing Facts About New Zealand

Ahoy, fellow Archivists! Prepare for land as we approach the island country of New Zealand! You may know its landscape from The Lord of the Rings, but do you really know New Zealand as it deserves to be known?

10. New Zealand Cuisine
We all have our favorite cuisines, all varying depending on what part of the world you hail from. New Zealanders have their own selection of dining favorites, some stemming from Maori roots, such as sweet potato, and others, like pork, influenced by European settlers. One popular tradition that has stuck around is hangi, a method of cooking that uses heated rocks buried in a pit oven. Additional influence in New Zealand food stems from the British Isles. Fish and chips, custard squares, pavlova, and meat pies are popular in modern New Zealand, all accompanied with a budding wine and beer industry.

9. Inventions
In the medical field, we have inventors like Colin Murdoch to thank for the disposable hypodermic syringe and the child-proof medicine cap. Additionally, Murdoch was known for his creation of the modern tranquilizer gun. A little less imperative to saving human life, but still impressive none-the-less, are the creation of the eggbeater, burglar-proof windows, and the spiral hairpin, credited to New Zealand emigrant Ernest Godward. If you’ve ever watched YouTube videos of people rolling down hills in giant plastic balls, you can thank David and Andrew Akers for their creation of the Zorb.

8. Famous New Zealanders
One of New Zealand’s greatest claims to fame is Ernest Rutherford. A chemist and physicist, Rutherford is best known for being the first individual to split an atom and created a credible theory of atomic structure, for which he won the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. On the other end of the spectrum was Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. Other notable Kiwis include filmmaker Peter Jackson, Russell Crowe, Sam Neil, the Flight of the Conchords, Bruce McLaren, and Katherine Mansfield. Nancy Wake earned notoriety during World War II when she became the Gestapo’s most wanted person while Charles Upham became the first soldier to earn 2 Victoria Crosses for one war. On YouTube, be sure to check out Shirley Setia, Wacky Wednesday, and Shannon Harris from Shaaanxo.

7. New Zealand Wildlife
You may have heard us call New Zealanders "Kiwis" a time or two, and now you finally get to know why! While many people would likely associate this terminology with the fruit, the New Zealand nickname was derived from the flightless bird native to the country. Joining the Kiwi on land are New Zealand’s only native land mammal, the long-tailed and short-tailed bat. Traverse this beautiful country and you’ll come to find that it is a haven for seabirds, playing host to albatross, New Zealand Dotterel, New Zealand Fairy Tern, penguins, and Westland petrel. What New Zealand lacks in native land mammals it makes up for in Weta, of which there are over 70 different species inhabiting the land.

6. New Zealand Tourist Attractions
Probably the most notable tourist attraction in New Zealand is not some manmade structure, but rather a series of caves found in the King Country region of New Zealand. The Waitomo Caves are not your average holes within the Earth, especially when you get to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. These caves are home to an incredible spectacle, an underground light show provided by nothing more than thousands of living glowworms. If insects and enclosed spaces aren’t your thing, maybe you’ll enjoy The Sky Tower and its 328 meter or 1,076 foot view over Auckland. Looking to avoid heights and want something a bit more natural? You’ll probably want to stop by the thermal wonderland of Rotorua, the Bay of Islands, Tongariro National Park, or Kaikoura.

5. Women’s Suffrage and the $10 Note
Women’s right to vote has been a hot button issue in just about every culture, and New Zealand is no exception. Up until the late 19th century, women were barred from being involved in politics. Enter Kate Sheppard, establisher of New Zealand’s Women’s Christian Temperance Union. With backing from the union, Sheppard sought to instill women’s suffrage and introduced the first bill in 1887, followed by a pamphlet the following year titled “Ten Reasons Why the Women of N.Z. Should Vote.” By September 19th, 1893, women of New Zealand were able to vote, and November 28th of the same year would also mark the first election they could vote in. That year, nearly 2/3 of women voted in the election and Sheppard’s efforts found her on New Zealand’s $10 note.

4. The Treaty of ANZUS
In 1951, Australia, New Zealand and the United States entered into a security agreement that bound them to cooperate when it came to military issues in the Pacific Ocean. Though a focal and integral part of the Australian, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty, New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance brought a change to the treaty. With the country and the majority of its people pro-nuclear disarmament, and the United States having declared itself a nuclear power, a discord started to form, eventually leading to the U.S. suspending its obligations to New Zealand. With the pact essentially dissolved, despite New Zealand never officially withdrawing, the United States considered the country “a friend, but not an ally.” In 2010, the two countries signed the Willington Declaration, a move that wiped out any strain from the ANZUS dispute.

3. Film-Friendly
If you’re in need of a place to film your movie, you may be able to find support – and amazing landscape – in New Zealand, one of the film industry’s most prominent locales. The rolling hills of New Zealand have been featured in such theatrical epics as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit trilogy, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and other productions like Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers and The Frighteners. Its environments, from sandy beaches to snowy alps, provide incredible diversity for a myriad of needs, but the look of a movie is not always the driving factor. Qualifying productions that film in New Zealand can receive a cash grant of 20%, along with an additional 5% for those that can demonstrate economic benefits.

2. Celebrating the All Blacks
What do Kiwis do when they’re not helping in film productions, cooking hangi style, or visiting the Glowworm Caves? They support the All Blacks, their local men’s rugby union team. In 1870, Charles Monro is said to have introduced New Zealand to the sport of rugby, which he became familiar with at Christ’s College in Finchley, England. May 1870 was the first game ever played by New Zealand players and the original All Blacks emerged in 1905 during a tour of the British Isles. In 1987, 2011, and 2015, the All Blacks took the Rugby World Cup championship, becoming the first team to claim three World Cups. Even at their worst, the All Blacks typically only lost one game and often placed in the top 3.

1. Strange Records Held by Kiwis
According to the Guinness World Records, around 100 records have been attributed to New Zealanders, and there are some really odd claims to fame out there. Among some of these records are Martin Reuben de Jong’s 2009 feat of running through 15 consecutive panes of glass; the greatest distance between the same individual being ticketed by the same officer for the same offense, broken by Constable Andy Flitton; and Clint Hallman, the first individual to receive a hand transplant operation after cutting his off with a chainsaw. The list goes on to include the most heads shaved in one hour for a Child Cancer Foundation fundraiser, a man that can throw a washing machine 4.015 meters or 13.17 feet, and the largest wasp nest discovered in 1963.

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