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Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, who is currently Jacinda Ardern.
They traded European food, metal tools, weapons and other goods for timber, Māori food, artefacts and water.New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometres (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga.Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans.On 3 September 1939 New Zealand allied itself with Britain and declared war on Germany with Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage proclaiming, "Where she goes, we go; where she stands, we stand." Permanent migration is regulated under the 1970 Samoan Quota Scheme and the 2002 Pacific Access Category, which allow up to 1,100 Samoan nationals and up to 750 other Pacific Islanders respectively to become permanent New Zealand residents each year.A seasonal workers scheme for temporary migration was introduced in 2007 and in 2009 about 8,000 Pacific Islanders were employed under it. It has contributed forces to several regional and global peacekeeping missions, such as those in Cyprus, Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Sinai, Angola, Cambodia, the Iran–Iraq border, Bougainville, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands.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.
Between March 2005 and August 2006, New Zealand became the first country in the world in which all the highest offices in the land—Head of State, Governor-General, Prime Minister, Speaker and Chief Justice—were occupied simultaneously by women.
The 19 Imperial Conferences decided that New Zealand should be allowed to negotiate its own political treaties and the first commercial treaty was ratified in 1928 with Japan.
New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pacific Islands Forum, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
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.
In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes.