- an island country in the South Pacific about 1,900 km (1,200 miles) east of Australia; population 4,213,400 (est. 2009); languages, English, Maori; capital, Wellington. Maori name Aotearoa.
New Zealand consists of two major islands (the North Island and the South Island) separated by Cook Strait, and several smaller islands. The original discoverers of the country were the Maoris. The first European to sight New Zealand was the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642; the islands were circumnavigated by Captain James Cook, and came under British sovereignty in 1840. Full dominion status was granted in 1907, and independence in 1931 within the Commonwealth