IT WAS likely about 800 years ago that Maori tribes traveled across thousands of miles of ocean and settled in New Zealand. There they discovered a terrain that was totally unlike the tropical islands of Polynesia that they had left behind. Here was a land of mountains and glaciers, thermal springs and snow. Another race of settlers arrived about five centuries later, this time from distant Europe. Today most New Zealanders acknowledge traditions of both Anglo-Saxon and Polynesian origin. Almost 90 percent of the population are city dwellers. The city of Wellington has the distinction of being the southernmost capital in the world.
With diverse and spectacular scenic beauty, it is no surprise that, despite its relative isolation, New Zealand attracts up to three million tourists yearly.
New Zealand boasts an odd assortment of wildlife, with more species of flightless birds than anywhere else in the world. It is also home to the tuatara, a lizardlike reptile that can live for up to 100 years! The only indigenous mammals are a few species of bats and some large marine mammals, including whales and dolphins.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been active in New Zealand for almost 120 years. They teach the Bible in at least 19 languages, including the Polynesian tongues Niuean, Rarotongan, Samoan, and Tongan.