New Zealand is a country that most people find fascinating due to its beautiful scenery and the fact that the majority of The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies got filmed there. Hence the growth of tourism in the last five to six years. Often people confuse this country as being part of Australia, but it is its own country. However, one may remember the Christchurch mosque incident that occurred on or about March 15, 2019, which was very shocking to the world because crime is low, religion is accepted, and mass shooting is a rare occurrence. New Zealand ranks 22nd compared to the United States when it comes to gun violence and other violent crimes. Many believe that New Zealand is a very safe country to visit; however, crime occurs any and everywhere; no one country is immune to the same, especially for the tourist. This paper will discuss the country history, crime that occurs in New Zealand; and how their judicial system applies the law to those who commit a crime in this country.
The country of New Zealand is unique as it is an island country that is remote and sparsely populated. It has been called “God’s own country,” “Paradise of the Pacific,” and often called Aotearoa by the indigenous people known as Māori, which means “Land of the Long White Cloud. Tourism has increased in this country over the last five years due to the exquisite and diverse landscape of rolling pastures, steep fiords, jagged mountains, raging rivers, pristine trout-filled lakes, and its active volcanoes. Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is a sovereign island that is made up of a North and South. The mass of land with roughly 600 smaller islands surrounding it; totaling an area mass of 268,000 square kilometers (166,537.48 square miles). In comparison, the landmass of New Zealand would be equivalent to Japan in size (Butler & Ortolja-Baird, 2017).
With a population of about 4.8 million people, New Zealand makes up about 0.06% of the world’s population and ranks 127 on the list of countries by population. The capital of Wellington is the second populous city in the state with approximately 418,000 residents, while the most populous city of the country is Auckland (“New Zealand Population (2019) – Worldometers”, 2019).
People in New Zealand often go by the name New Zealanders or “Kiwis” like the flightless birds that are native to this country. Of the approximate 4.8 million people, 69% are European descent, 14.6 are indigenous Māori, 9.2% are Asian, and 6.9 are non-Māori Pacific islander. Thus, making the country even more unique with the various history and culture of Māori, European, Pacific Island, and Asian cultures making it a melting pot like the United States. Majority of those who live in Southern part of the island is known as the New Zealanders. Aside from the diversity of people in New Zealand, the geographical landscape is also diverse. From the rolling hills; sheep scattered hills in the North to extraordinary, snow-capped, rocky mountains and raging lakes in the South. Any land area not subjected to snow is usually is used as farmland, despite there is about 30% percent of the land covered in forest.
When it comes to the climate is it usually temperate with subtropical weather in the summer and cold temperatures as low as -10 C in the winter, moderate rain, and much sun. The South Island is vast and much colder than the North, which is divided by the Southern Alps, the highest elevation is Aoraki Mount Cook ranging at 12, 313 feet (3,753 meters) (Butler & Ortolja-Baird, 2017). Other stunning aspects of the geography include the fiords, volcanoes, caves, boulders, and the beaches with its beautiful waters. The most popular attractions being Milford Sound, a long narrow, inlet with steep sides which resulted from a glacier, Mount Taranaki, a well-known volcano for its most symmetrical shape, Waitomo caves, Fox Glacier, and the Moeraki boulders.
The people of New Zealand are known for their ingenuity considering its diversity of the immigrants that migrated there. Farming (sheep and cow), forestry, and tourism are the top resources that bring money to the economy. The country relies primarily on trade routes to keep its estimated total nominal GDP of $161.8 billion increasing. They export a variety of goods, including agriculture, fishing, forestry products, and plants. Their significant imports include oil, machinery, vehicles, and textiles. New Zealand is seeking to become a global destination for petroleum exploration, production investment, and geothermal energy; the majority of the country energy comes in the form renewable resources (Butler & Ortolja-Baird, 2017).
The government of New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Wherein Queen Elizabeth II reigns over the country and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the head of the government. The governmental system is the House of Representatives wherein their role is to preside over the Speaker of the House. While proposing and passing laws for the country’s benefit and maintaining the spending of funds by the government. For a bill to become enacted, it must be reviewed by the Queen or her representative known as the Governor General, who is head of the state (Butler & Ortolja-Baird, 2017). The most intriguing thing about New Zealand is that it does not have a written Constitution or Bill of Rights. The Act of Parliament is used to govern the country, but there is the Bill of Rights Act of 1990 and the Human Right Act of 1993. The acts protect the rights of citizens when involved with the government and prohibit discrimination of any kind, respectively.
There is a judiciary system in place to interpret and enforce the law, yet it separate from the parliament, which enacts the laws, so it is the opposite of how the United States government. There are district courts, the High Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme court, while the Governor General makes the appointments of judges serving in the hierarchy of courts. Two specialty courts exist for family matters and delinquent youth, which are under the district court umbrella. On the political front, there are two major parties, the National Party and the Labour Party and a few others; however, political parties can be registered or unregistered.
The United States has a good relationship with New Zealand despite being a major non-NATO ally. Under the George W. Bush and Helen Clark administration relations between the two countries has dramatically improved except for the United States trying to convince New Zealand to get on board and dissolve their anti-nuclear policies under a free-trade agreement. The United States is the third-largest partner to New Zealand in trading behind China and Australia, and New Zealand is the 47th largest partner to the United States (“New Zealand,” 2019).
Tracey was visiting New Zealand on a summer vacation and planned to visit multiple attraction while there. She arrived at the Wellington airport that afternoon and took an uber to Rydges Welling hotel where she would be staying for the next thirty days. During her first two weeks there, Tracey got a chance to see Zealandia, the childhood home of Katherine Mansfield, the City Gallery. Also, she visited both the Beehive and the Chamber, which is where the New Zealand parliament is located. On or about her third week in there, Tracey wanted to check out the beaches. She chose to visit Princess Bay, which is about a seven-mile drive, so she opted to rent a car and head to the beach.
While strolling the down the rocky shores of the beach, she heard a car alarm going off. She ran up to the parking area and found a kiwis or new Zealander breaking into her rental car. At that moment, Tracey found her punching and kicking the guy to the ground to make him stop. This did not end well for Tracey as someone had recorded the incident on their cell phone. The police got called, and Tracey was arrested immediately, and the rental car was impounded. Tracey’s arrest was legal and justified as she has breached public peace under the Criminal Act of 1961 under sections 35, 37, and 39 (“Crimes Act 1961 No 43 (as at July 01 2019), Public Act Contents – New Zealand Legislation”, 2019). As an arrestee, Tracey was given the right not to make a statement at the time of the arrest. It was not given until legal counsel was sought legal and after being told why they arrested her and what the current charge was. However, she had to provide her name, date of birth, address, and occupation. Under the Summary Offences Act of 1981, Tracey’s crime categorized as a minor offense under section 9. Tracey is looking at potential six-month imprisonment and a fine up to $4,000.00 or a maximum of one-year imprisonment (“Summary Offences Act 1981 No 113 (as at July 01 2019), Public Act Contents – New Zealand Legislation”, 2019).
Tracey appeared before the judge of the district court the next day and is informed that she would be detained until a formal trial. During the trial proceeding Tracey, plead not guilty to common assault under the pretenses that she was protecting her property. Which gave up her right to a trial by jury under the Summary of Offences Act 1981 section 9 and Crimes Act 1961 section 196. A judge ruled that the case had some aggravating and mitigating factors that canceled each other out. Such as Tracey being a visitor from the US, no past criminal record, and that she appeared remorseful in her statement to the court. Her stay in New Zealand got extended. She had to complete 300 hours of community service under the supervision of the court, and once she completed same, Tracey was sent back to the States.
Tracey was treated with dignity and respect despite being charged with an assault of another person. For 1 Peter 3:9 states, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (New International Version). Tracey was loss temporarily and sought violence against someone who was causing evil to occur in her life as a result of her pride. Biblical scripture speaks about this in Psalm 73:6, “Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence” (New International Version). Thankfully, the court system was about to follow the laws of punishment and remained understanding of Tracey’s mistake and showed her compassion. Just as Galatians 6:2 taught us with these words, “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ” (New International Version).
New Zealand appears to be a country of utopia; however, as Christians, we all know that no one or thing is perfect except Jesus Christ. If other countries were to adopt the ideological of those in New Zealand, this world would be darn near perfect itself, and this would be very pleasing in the sight of God. For when we were created in his image, and we would be living a life for God, reaping his blessings, and most of have a closer relationship with Him. Humankind needs to stop trying to live under God, above God, away from God, solely for God, but with God, because we are all his beloved children.