NZ ranked highly for contribution to humanity

New Zealand has been ranked fifth in the world for its positive contribution to humanity.

It's the only non-European country to make the top 10 of the Good Country Index, which measures 125 countries on how much they give to the "greater good" of the world.

Countries were judged across seven categories, including science, culture, peace, climate, equality and health.

New Zealand ranked fifth overall, beating the United Kingdom (7th), Australia (15th), and the United States (21st).

Kiwis scored highly (7th) for their contribution to the planet and climate, with no hazardous waste exports, and for science and technology (10th), with a large number of international students and journal publications, patents and nobel prizes.

However, New Zealand's rank was brought down by its poor scores in equality and prosperity (41st), and international peace and security (37th), where it was marked down for involvement in international violent conflict and arms exports.

Ireland claimed the top spot on the Good Country Index.

Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister's chief science advisor, said it showed New Zealand does "remarkably well given where we are in the world and our size".

"It tells us something that we've known for a very long time, that New Zealand is a great little country. We should be proud of ourselves."

The high score in science and technology showed "we have a remarkably effective scientific system for the relatively small amounts of money we spend [on science]".

"It reflects the fact we have very good scientists who do a remarkable amount per dollar spent, and who are internationally respected."

The high score on climate reflected the nature of New Zealand's large agricultural-based economy, he said.

A breakdown of New Zealand's scores also revealed it did well in terms of charitable giving, food and humanitarian aid, something Gwen Green, Oxfam NZ's engagement director, said was a "striking" feature of New Zealanders.

"I think it's intrinsically part of being a nation with a small population, people are very close knit and there's a real inbuilt psyche to want to help people," she said.

"Even if people can't financially give, they still want to know how they can help in one way or another."

It was "brilliant" that New Zealand had ranked so highly, she said, adding it showed we can "really punch above our weight".

Michael Tritt, head of Greenpeace NZ's climate and energy campaign, said it was "great to see New Zealand being recognised" for its beautiful environment.

However, he warned that future success on international rankings could be hindered by oil drilling policies.

Honorary consul general of Ireland in New Zealand, Rodney Walshe, said there were many similarities between the two countries, and it was great news the two had done so well.

The Good Country Index merged 35 data sets produced by organisations including the United Nations, World Health Organisation, and UNESCO over a period of nearly three years.

Top five Good Countries

1 - Ireland
2 - Finland
3 - Switzerland
4 - Netherlands
5 - New Zealand

Bottom five Good Countries

1 - Libya
2 - Vietnam
3 - Iraq
4 - Azerbaijan
5 - Angola

Top country in each category (with NZ ranking)

Science and Technology -- United Kingdom (NZ:10th)
Culture -- Belgium (NZ: 25th)
International Peace and Security -- Egypt (NZ: 37th)
World Order -- Germany (NZ: 17th)
Planet and Climate -- Iceland (NZ: 7th)
Prosperity and Equality -- Ireland (NZ: 41st)
Health and Wellbeing -- Spain (NZ: 17th)


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