Slipping into Paradise: Why I Live in New Zealand is a wonderful, contemporary introduction to New Zealand. I found the NZ history chapter (Fifty Important Dates in NZ History) very readable and interesting, as was the chapter on the Maori which walked the fine line between PC and full disclosure.
At the end of the day, the author (Holocaust-obsessed, vegetarian, academic, married to a lady 30 year younger) is so wildly enthusiastic about his recently adopted home, that the book, for all its obvious attempts for balance and impartiality, comes across like tourism propaganda. In spite of the unabashed cheer leading, the book is the best introduction to New Zealand available and I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in this small island country on the other side of the world.
If you're interested in a more comprehensive history of New Zealand, check out The Oxford Illustrated History of New Zealand.
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