Democracy and rights
New Zealand, together with the Nordic countries,
tend to be at the forefront of global evaluations of
democracy and respect for human rights. The media and
courts have an independent position and can operate
The general elections, which are held at least every
three years, are considered by assessors to be free of
influence and properly and fairly conducted. The
electoral law is fair and impartial and there is general
and equal voting rights for citizens.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in New Zealand, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
New Zealand is one of the world's least corrupt
countries according to the organization Transparency
International's ranking list (see here). There are
anti-corruption laws that work well.
New Zealanders can become members of political
parties and get involved in associations and in turn can
act without hindrance.
Women have good opportunities to get involved
politically and the proportion of women in parliament in
2017 was 40 percent. Jacinda Ardern became the third
woman in the Prime Minister's post in 2017.
Seven mandates are reserved for the indigenous
people, Maoris. Since 1976, Maoris can vote or stand as
candidates in election districts other than their own.
A controversial domestic policy issue is the Maori
demands for compensation for land and fishing rights
they lost, despite the promises made in connection with
the signing of the Waitangi Treaty of 1840 (see Ancient
History). When the treaty was written, the Maoris owned
27 million hectares of land, but they lost most of their
land to the colonizers.
In 1988, the Maoris owned only 1.5 million hectares
but made demands on three quarters of the country's
area. The Waitangi Tribunal, which was established in
1975, was commissioned from the mid-1980s to review and
issue opinions on all reported disputes arising after
1840 and otherwise monitor Moorish affairs. However, the
tribunal's decisions are not binding on the government.
There is also a court for disputes relating to Maori
land ownership, the Maori Land Court.
An early, symbolically important settlement in the
tribunal led to the Maori language becoming official in
1987 alongside the English. In 1992, the Maoris were
guaranteed rights to commercial fishing, valued at large
sums. In 1995 came the first settlement involving
confiscated land. The Tainui people in Waikato were
replaced with cash and land seized 130 years earlier,
for a total value of 170 million New Zealand dollars
(just over SEK 850 million). Queen Elizabeth personally
apologized for the confiscation. Similar agreements have
subsequently been concluded with several other people.
In 2009, for the first time, a settlement was reached
in an intellectual property case. A Moorish tribe
received compensation and was guaranteed the right to
dance Ka Mate chin, which is traditionally performed by
the country's rugby team before matches. There was a
concern among the Maoris for the growing
commercialization that arose around the dance.
The payments in fair money exceeded one billion New
Zealand dollars in 2009. The agreements have sparked
debate about whether this is the most equitable way to
return property to the Maori population and how the
compensation should be designed to benefit the Maori in
the cities as well. The agreements have also been
criticized for disregarding the social and cultural
consequences of the colonization and Maori demands for
increased self-determination. According to a government
decision, all targets must be completed by 2020.
In 2011, a law was introduced that allowed Maori and
other indigenous people to assert their right to coastal
areas and the seabed. Applications with such
requirements could be submitted to the government or
submitted to court in 2017. New Zealanders have the
right to have access to the beach areas by law unless it
is about land designated as sacred to the indigenous
population. But, for example, Maoris can claim coastal
areas and mineral resources as well as pay for companies
that conduct commercial activities there.
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press prevails and the debate is often
lively. A merger that would have meant that two large
Australian-owned companies would jointly control 90
percent of the newspaper market was halted in 2017,
citing the importance of journalistic diversity in a
democracy. There are both TV and several radio stations
that broadcast on Maori and support Maori culture.
Freedom of speech is guaranteed by law and is
generally respected in practice, even on the Internet.
However, new security legislation was introduced in 2017
that gives the police and security services the
opportunity to extend surveillance of data
communications in the event of threats to national
There is a law that gives access to public documents,
but the lengthy processing times and the ability of
authorities to charge high fees for the material to be
released are criticized by journalists.
In 2019, New Zealand ranked 7 out of 180 in the
Reporters Without Borders ranking of freedom of the
press in the countries of the world.
Judicial system and legal security
The judiciary is independent and generally works
Violence crime is relatively high, especially in
homes where violence against women and children is
common. Aga at school was banned in 1989 but at home
only in 2007.
The UN has criticized New Zealand for its low
criminal age. Children as young as ten can be convicted
of murder or murder, and for other crimes can be
punished from the age of 14. The death penalty was
abolished in 1989.
Prison services have at times been criticized for
overcrowding and inadequate access to psychiatric care.
Another problem is that Maoris are over-represented in
the country's prisons; more than 50 percent of the
inmates are reported to belong to the indigenous