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Letter from New Zealand
  1. Lindsay Haas*,
  2. Ernie Willoughby
  1. *Wellington and
  2. Auckland, New Zealand; E-mail: lhaas{at}


New Zealand, a long thin country, is made up of two main islands. Mountains of various sizes dominate the landscape, particularly in the South Island where 200 peaks are higher than 2300 meters. We are blessed with a temperate climate, large tracts of fertile soil and a long growing season – livestock do not need to be kept indoors in the winter. The land area of 103 883 square miles (269 057 square kilometres) is slightly larger than Great Britain although the population is only 3.8 million with about 17% indigenous Maori and immigrants from the Pacific Islands. Sheep outnumber humans by 12–1, a considerable drop from the ratio of 22–1 in 1982 when there were farm subsidies.

Given the originally European population, and the geography, it is not surprising that the pattern of neurological disease is similar to other western countries. For example, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has a

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