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Fact file

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  • At latitude 41° south, Wellington is the world’s southernmost capital city and shares the honour of being the most remote with Canberra, over 2000km away.
  • Possums are the national pest. When seen on the road, these introduced marsupials turn normally mild-mannered folk into killers. Flattened examples are everywhere.
  • Kiwis love foreign affirmation: Flight of the Conchords were turned down by domestic television and only became a local success after their HBO hit series.
  • Maori ex-prostitute Georgina Beyer became the world’s first transsexual MP in 1999.
  • There are no snakes in New Zealand, and only a few venomous spiders, rarely seen.
  • The numerous Maori words that have crept into everyday conversation easily confound visitors: aroha is love; kia kaha means be strong; kia ora can be hi or might signify agreement; and koha is a donation or offering.
  • New Zealand’s eels live to 80 years and only breed once, at the end of their life – and they swim all the way to Tonga to do it.
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