Natural resources and energy
New Zealand has some oil and natural gas but
is otherwise relatively poor in minerals. Only
phosphate, carbon, limestone, dolomite and iron sand are
present in larger quantities. However, some mining of
gold and silver takes place. The country's great natural
resource is the fertile agricultural land. New Zealand
is close to four-fifths self-sufficient in energy.
The Taranaki region on the North Island has oil and
gas fields. About 20 gas fields account for most of the
production, the largest Maui field is offshore. The
importance of natural gas production has increased. Gas
pipelines have been drawn to the larger cities of the
North Island, but much of the gas production is used in
the chemical industry, among other things to produce
Major exports by New Zealand with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Most of the oil production takes place in a few
fields, and the oil is exported. Production reached a
peak in 2008 and has declined somewhat since then. Most
of the oil demand is filled through imports.
Coal is the country's largest non-renewable energy
source, but the deposits consist mostly of lignite which
has a relatively low energy content. There is no nuclear
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New Zealand is self-sufficient in electricity.
Four-fifths of the electricity comes from renewable
energy sources: hydropower, wind power and geothermal
energy. Hydropower is well developed, mainly on the
South Island, and covers two-thirds of the country's
electricity consumption. The dependence on hydropower
creates problems in drought, and the country has been
hit by electricity shortage several times.
New Zealand ratified the Kyoto Agreement in 2002,
which aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In
2008, the country began to phase in emissions trading,
as part of its efforts to reduce emissions of mainly
carbon dioxide. New Zealand has committed to reducing
greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared
to 2005 levels, according to the Paris climate agreement
of 2015. However, a survey by the OECD Economic
Cooperation Organization of 2017 showed that New
Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions have increased by
close to one percent. one quarter compared to 1990.
Among the OECD countries, New Zealand was in fifth place
in terms of per capita emissions at the middle of the
2010s. At the end of 2017, the Labor-led coalition
government presented a plan to completely stop
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Agriculture is a major climate impediment and
accounts for almost half of the emissions, which is the
highest proportion of OECD countries. It is especially
dairy production that puts the environment under great
strain, not least by leading to elevated levels of
nitrogen in the country's lakes and rivers and in the
Wetlands disappear and the forest is cut down in the
lowlands poses a threat to hundreds of animal and plant
species. In 2000, a program was launched to try to stop
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
4 445 kilos of oil equivalent (2015)
Electricity consumption per person
9026 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
34 664 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
7.7 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
30.8 percent (2015)
Shearer new Labor leader
David Shearer appointed as new Labor leader.
Key forms minority government
Nationalist Party leader John Key forms his second
minority government (see Current Politics).
No to drum system replacement
In a referendum held at the same time as the
parliamentary elections, a majority of New Zealanders
say no to changing the electoral system.
Election victory for the Nationalist Party
The Nationalist Party wins the parliamentary
elections (see Current Politics), which will be a major
setback for Labor, whose leader Phil Goff resigns.
Environmental disaster at sea
An oil ship runs on the shore outside the North
Island, and 350 tonnes of oil leak into a natural area
with penguins and other bird species as well as seals,
dolphins and whales. It is New Zealand's biggest
environmental disaster so far at sea.
Aftershock in Christchurch
The city of Christchurch on the South Island is
affected by several aftershocks, which cause material
Thousands of buildings in Christchurch have to be
It is estimated that at least 6,000 of the
earthquake-damaged buildings in the city of Christchurch
on the South Island (see February 2011)
cannot be repaired and must be demolished.
Severe consequences after earthquake
185 people are killed in a powerful earthquake that
hit the city of Christchurch on the South Island. More
than 100 of the victims are killed when a wrongly
constructed six-storey house collapses. Many thousands
of people become homeless. In total, about 100,000
houses are damaged.
Severe mining accident
A mining accident requires 29 lives and leads to the
government appointing a special commission to
investigate the conditions for the mining industry.
Trade union conflict over filming
A trade union conflict arises around the planned
recording of the Hobbit films (after JRR Tolkien's novel
about Bilbo). The American film company threatens to
abandon New Zealand because of the demands of the trade
union. Thousands of New Zealanders are demonstrating for
the recording to take place in the country. The
government then decides to change the labor legislation,
which means a deterioration of the film workers' union
rights. The Labor opposition faces harsh criticism of
the whole. The government also decides to increase its
financial contributions to big-budget films produced in
New Zealand. The country receives the recording, which
is expected to greatly increase tourism income (see
The indigenous people's rights declaration is signed
The government signs the UN Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples (see also Modern History).
Reconciliation with Fiji
Fiji and New Zealand restore diplomatic relations
(see December 2008 and November 2009).