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During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life.The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions.

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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, ASEAN Plus mechanism, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sighted New Zealand in 1642 and named it Staten Land "in honour of the States General" (Dutch parliament).

Reflecting this, New Zealand's culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration.

The official languages are English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language, with English being dominant.

Ongoing unrest, the proposed settlement of New Zealand by the New Zealand Company (which had already sent its first ship of surveyors to buy land from Māori) and the dubious legal standing of the Declaration of Independence prompted the Colonial Office to send Captain William Hobson to claim sovereignty for the United Kingdom and negotiate a treaty with the Māori.

The House of Representatives is democratically elected and a government is formed from the party or coalition with the majority of seats.After a pause of 70 to 265 years, a new wave of exploration led to the discovery and settlement of New Zealand.Over the centuries that followed, these settlers developed a distinct culture now known as Māori.He wrote, "it is possible that this land joins to the Staten Land but it is uncertain", 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 New Zealand Geographic Board discovered in 2009 that the names of the North Island and South Island had never been formalised, and names and alternative names were formalised in 2013.In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes.

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