Countryaah, Jenny Shipley succeeded James Bolger in
December as the country's prime minister (New Zealand's first female).
She had previously taken over the post of leader of the New
Zealand National Party in what was described as a palace
revolution during a lengthy foreign trip undertaken by the
incumbent prime minister. Shipley represents the right wing
within his party.
The New Zealand Commission on GMOs issued a report
supporting the use of GMOs in the country's agriculture. It
led to a general uproar among consumers, environmentalists
and the country's indigenous population, forcing the
government to impose a moratorium on its use until October
Queen Elisabeth II visited the country on the occasion of
her golden anniversary. It prompted Prime Minister Clark to
say that "it was inevitable that New Zealand would be
transformed into a republic. It will simply reflect the
country's real situation in the 21st century as fully
independent and at a distance of 20,000 km from the UK ».
In celebration of Papua New Guinea's 40 years of
independence in July, Clark formally apologized for the
treatment the Papuans had been subjected to by New
Zealanders during the colonial era.
Clark won the parliamentary elections in July 2002. That
led to a violent internal showdown in the Nationalist Party,
which had the worst election in 70 years. That Clark did not
get an absolute majority in parliament was solely due to
progress for the Greens and other smaller parties.
In 1983, New Zealand and Australia signed a Trade and
Economic Relations Agreement (CER), which should be a first
step towards integrating the economies of the two countries.
By expanding its trade with the growing Asian economies,
Wellington has strengthened its economic participation in
Asia. The country has spoken in the ASEAN of the East Asian
countries and is actively participating in the Pacific
Although the country's economic growth reached its peak
since World War II, growth has slowed sharply. This is
partly due to the low growth in the UK, which remains the
main importer of New Zealand's products and the high tariff
for agricultural products in the industrially developed part
of the world. Tourism is also an important source of foreign
currency. Most tourists are Australians, Japanese, North
Americans and British. The crisis in Asia in the late 1990's
led to a sharp decline in tourism revenue, which has only
slowly risen again in the early 21st century.
Immigrant discrimination has not previously been a topic
of debate in the country until the National Human Rights
Commission in 2003 published a study showing that 70% of New
Zealanders discriminate against Asian immigrants. The
Commission therefore led a campaign to increase tolerance
towards immigrants. According to official estimates, since
the beginning of the 1980's, over 200,000 Asian immigrants
have come to the country, and by 2021, statistics believe
that 13% of the country's population will have Asian origin.
Asians have serious problems finding work even when they are
well qualified. In August 2003, the race relations
ombudsman, Joris de Bres, declared that rising racism
against Asians was a consequence of changes in the
immigration pattern. In the 1970's immigration was
predominantly from other Pacific countries, and
discrimination was therefore directed primarily at these.
Today, the majority of immigrants are Asians, and from the
beginning of the 21st century, discrimination has therefore
turned in this direction.
In July 2004, New Zealand asked for help from the United
Kingdom and Norway for the restoration of the Antarctic
cabins used early by explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott
and Carsten Borchgrevink. The Antarctic Conservation
Association is headquartered in New Zealand, and is now
submitting a project to preserve the cottages that were
already in rapid decline. Expenses rose to several million.
US $ even though no precise budgets were available. Helen
Clark declared that foreign aid was indispensable, and as
the project touched on a piece of shared history between New
Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom, she was optimistic
about obtaining the necessary funds.
In August, a Jewish chapel in the Makara cemetery west of
Wellington was ignited and destroyed. At the same time,
dozens of headstones were destroyed by vandals. The
government condemned the attack and characterized it as an
unacceptable racist act. Police investigated the possible
connection to a similar assault on the Bolton Street
cemetery in July. It is also located at Wellington. Before
the first attack, New Zealand had imposed diplomatic
sanctions on Israel in protest against Israeli Mossad
agents' activities on New Zealand territory: Uriel Zosha
Kelman and Eli Cara had been sentenced to 6 months in prison
for illegally trying to obtain New Zealand passports. Helen
Clark stated that the attempts to forge identity constituted
an attack on New Zealand's sovereignty.
In December, Parliament passed with 65 votes against the
55 Civil Code Act, until its entry into force in April 2005.
The law recognizes male-female cohabitation and grants the
couple the same rights as marriages in areas such as
authority over children, tax and welfare assistance. The law
also applies to gay couples.