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New Zealand is a beautiful island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean made up of two main landmasses – the North Island, or Te Ika-a-Māui, and the South Island, or Te Waipounamu – and numerous smaller islands. Performing Arts Abroad’s New Zealand programs are on the South Island. Because of its remoteness, New Zealand was one of the last lands on earth to be settled by humans.

Through its isolation, New Zealand has developed a distinctive biodiversity of plant, animal, and fungal life. Today, most of the country’s population of 4.5 million is of European descent, with the indigenous Māori as the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. New Zealand’s culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, and the official languages are English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language, with English being predominant.

There is a rich performing arts culture throughout both islands, with many Māori traditions preserved and promoted through music and dance. A highly developed film scene has supported the likes of Peter Jackson and other filmmakers who have won over a dozen Oscars from more than 40 nominations at the U.S. Film Academy Awards.

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