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New Zealand.

New Zealand History

Although New Zealand is quite young, it has an interesting history with both Maori and European heritage. Throughout the country you will find many Maori historic sites and colonial buildings. The Kiwis cherish and preserve this rich history.

The first immigrants to New Zealand were the Maori people. They migrated here from their ancestral

Polynesian homeland Hawaiki. They first landed on Aotearoa, meaning Land of the Long White Cloud), in canoes. They quickly settled the land and survived through their farming and hunting efforts.

About 800 years later, intense European migration followed. Abel Tasman was the first European to discover New Zealand, but it was after Captain James Cook began navigating the country in 1769 that migration really began to occur, especially after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 (which turned New Zealand into a British colony). At this time, British immigrants were offered a paid passage into New Zealand, allowing 40-60,000 to arrive there. The South Island gold rush of the 1860s saw even more migrants flood in from all over the world.

As more migrants arrived and they took over the land, disputes with Maori increased. This turned into a war in the Northland during the 1840s and then the rest of the country during the 1860s. British troops helped the New Zealand colonial forces during these conflicts. Although the Maori were often victorious in many instances, the sheer number of the Westerners left the indigenous Maori outnumbered. Soon afterwards, the government seized much of the remaining Maori land. With the loss in land and deaths in the wars, the population of the Maori dropped to only 40,000 by 1900.

After World War II, cultural ties with Great Britain were still very strong. However, the New Zealand governments saw the USA as a major ally. So the country joined the SEATO (South-East Asia Treaty Organization) and signed the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand and United States) Pact.

Although New Zealand still welcomes its colonial heritage, it has now grown and become its own unique country with its own identity. Since the mid-1980s, New Zealand has been a nuclear free zone with armed forces focused on peacekeeping in the Pacific region.

More Information


New Zealand Travel Guides
 Frommer's New Zealand
 Lonely Planet New Zealand
 Let's Go New Zealand
 Fodors New Zealand