Aotearoa New Zealand is a British Commonwealth country of four million people in the South Pacific Ocean originally inhabited by the Maori. It has been producing films almost as long as any other country has, with the occasional Oscar win, culminating in the record-equaling eleven Oscars awarded to Peter Jackson's third film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. All of each of the three films in the trilogy was shot in New Zealand, with most of the cast being New Zealanders. Its three official languages are English, sign language, and Maori.
Peter grew up and remains based in the region around the capital city, Wellington, which provided a number of locations for the trilogy, and his associated Weta Workshop (in eastern suburb Miramar) produced many of the props and effects and did much of the post-production. The effects company then turned their attention to a live-action movie version of King Kong, also directed by Peter Jackson.
Before The Hobbit (films) and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the country was considered to be an amateur in film. But no longer with the release of the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King it became one of the only three movies in the world to win a total of eleven Academy Awards (Oscars). Now different crew members live in New Zealand because they loved the landscape and decided to stay. It has an area of 268,680 km2.
Before Europeans arrived in the late eighteenth century, it was predominated by the Maori, who arrived from Pacific Islands in the eleventh century. Its two main cities are Auckland and Wellington, which are both coastal cities. Its national animal and one of its biggest national icons is the Kiwi. The popular sports include rugby and softball- football and cricket are more secondary sports.
Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the country's head of state and is represented by a ceremonial Governor-General who holds reserve powers. The Queen has no real political influence, and her position is essentially symbolic. Political power is held by the democratically elected Parliament of New Zealand under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who is the head of the government.
The population of New Zealand is mostly of European descent; the original Māori people are the largest minority. Asians and non-Māori Polynesians are also significant minority groups, especially in urban areas. The most commonly spoken language is English.
New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation: it is situated about 2000 km (1250 miles) southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. During its long isolation New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds (there are, in fact, only two native mammals in New Zealand), a few of which (including the Moa and the enormous Haast Eagle) became extinct after the arrival of humans and the mammals they introduced.