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New Zealand

New Zealand comprises two main islands and a number of smaller islands situated in the South Pacific Ocean, approximately 2,100 kilometres south east of the Australian coastline.

Total population is approximately 4 million, with about 75 per cent of the population living on the North Island. Wellington is the capital, but Auckland is the largest and most populous city and the commercial hub.

STEP New Zealand branch page

New developments
  • We are still waiting for enactment of new rules, which will provide a tax exemption for ‘active’ income of controlled foreign companies (CFCs). These proposals are contained in the Taxation (International Taxation, Life Insurance, and Remedial Matters) Bill. It is likely these new rules will come into effect for the income year commencing 1 April 2010. The ’Conduit Regime’ will be repealed under this Bill.
  • The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Bill was introduced into Parliament in June 2009. This Bill is intended to bring New Zealand law into line with international practice.
  • The Law Commission is undertaking a full review of the Trustee Act 1956 with a view to modernising this statute. Public consultation on the reforms has yet to commence.

1. Introduction

a. History and background

New Zealand comprises two main islands and a number of smaller islands situated in the South Pacific Ocean, approximately 2,100 kilometres south east of the Australian coastline.

Total population is approximately 4 million, with about 75 per cent of the population living on the North Island. Wellington is the capital, but Auckland is the largest and most populous city and the commercial hub.

New Zealand was colonised in the 19th century and was subject to a formal treaty in 1840, signed between the representatives of the British Crown and the indigenous Maori people.

The currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZD).

b. Legal system

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a democratically elected Parliament. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, whose personal representative in New Zealand is the Governor General.

Parliament is the governing body, made up of 120 members, and consisting of a single house referred to as the House of Representatives. Ministers, who head government departments, form the Cabinet, which is the decision-making body of the parties in power.

New Zealand has a common law legal system derived from England. The law is based on a substantial body of statute law, supplemented by common law decisions of the courts.

The New Zealand court system has four tiers:

  • District Court
  • High Court
  • Court of Appeal, and
  • Supreme Court (NZ).

With effect from mid-2004, the government abolished appeals to the Privy Council.

Editorial board
John W Hart TEP
Barrister and Notary Public, Auckland, New Zealand

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