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The Country Profile: New Zealand

Student’s Name

Due Date
POL 103 Tutorial Time
TA’s Name
3 pages


Part 1: The Democratic Society
Nationhood and Identity

    A democratic assessment of New Zealand would not be complete without looking into its society’s conceptions of citizenship, discrimination, and minority rights. This is due to the fact the country has a large indigenous population that has struggled to obtain equal rights and opportunities. The Maori people have traditionally held different opinions about culture, society, and government than their European counterparts in New Zealand. This culture clash has divided the country over the years and posed many problems for democracy.
    I have chosen this topic for my first democratic assessment because the New Zealand government’s handling of historic and contemporary Maori issues, such as political representation, education, and land reparations demonstrate the country’s commitment to democracy. Fundamental democratic characteristics, such as equality, are much easier to evaluate when viewed from the perspectives of a large, but historically disadvantaged minority, such as the Maori. By assessing the struggles and progress of the Maori and other minority groups, such as the more recent Asian immigrants, I hope to come to some important conclusions about the concept of nationhood and identity and how that relates to democracy in New Zealand.

Part 2: The Democratic State
Free and Fair Elections

    I have chosen free and fair elections as the topic of my second democratic assessment because I have found so much information concerning elections, voting, and voters. There seems to be a strong interest on behalf of New Zealanders in their electoral system and trends in voting. I have found that part of this interest stems from the recent conversion during the 1990s to a  different system of proportional representation. This new MMP system has created much debate among New Zealand’s political scientists and citizens alike. The fact that there is so much controversy and dissatisfaction leads me to believe that this is a very important aspect of democracy in New Zealand worth investigating further.
     In addition to looking into this new MMP system, I plan on studying other aspects of the electoral process, such as frequency, voter turnout, and referendums. All of these components, especially the frequent use of referendums, should tell me just how much control New Zealanders have over their governments and legislation.
Part 3: The Complexities of Democracy
International Dimensions of Democracy

    New Zealand may be an island, but when it comes to foreign relations and international politics, it no longer has the luxury of seclusion and isolation. I will write my third democratic assessment on the international dimensions of democracy because of New Zealand’s growing role on the international stage. Just as Canada tries to maintain close ties with the United States without giving up too much of its sovereignty, so too must New Zealand maintain this same distance from Australia. I am interested in investigating further how New Zealand manages to keep its culture, policies, and economy free from pressure and dependence on Australia.
    Furthermore, I will be looking into New Zealand’s role with international agencies such as the United Nations. Also, I am interested in how the country deals with other international issues such as immigration, refugees and asylum seekers, since it has become an increasingly popular destination for people in these situations.


Part 1: The Democratic Society

Lashley, Marilyn E. “Implementing Treaty Settlements via Indigenous Institutions: Social Justice and Detribalization in New Zealand”. The Contemporary Pacific. Vol 12, No1 (2000): 1-55.

Miller, Raymond (editor). New Zealand Politics in Transition. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Part 2: The Democratic State

Aimer, Peter and Vowles, Jack. Voter’s Vengeance. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1993.

Mulgan, Richard. Politics in New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1997.

Part 3: The Complexities of Democracy

Alley, R.M. The Domestic Politics of International Relations: Cases from Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania. England, 2000.

McKinnon, Malcolm. Independence and Foreign Policy: New Zealand in the World Since 1935. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1993.