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New Zealand History


New Zealand History

New Zealand was discovered by the Polynesians and they were the first to settle on the island. The island was discovered over seven hundred years back. The indigenous people of New Zealand are known as the Maori. Maori means the people and also the language. The word Maori may have two meanings, original or local. At this time the Maori called their land, particularly the North Island where they settled, Aotearoa, which means “land of the long white cloud”.  It is considered that New Zealand is one of the last places of the Earth that was settled by human beings. The Maoris ancestors are the Polynesian people who are originally from south-east Asia. Some historians think that the early settlers came from China and made a long trip via Taiwan, South Pacific then to New Zealand.

New Zealand History


There is also no exact date when the Polynesian settled on New Zealand, it is thought to be between 950 and 1200 AD. The first Polynesians seems to have settled mainly on the east coast of the island as it had a more temperate climate.

They also introduced animals as dogs and small Polynesian rat.

The Kumara is a sweet potato originally from tropical areas. It makes part of the Convolvulaceae plant family. It was the main cultivation of the pre-european Maori.The Kumara was easily grown in the North Island.


Those who settled as first on New Zealand were the Moa mostly found in the South Island. The Moa was a large flightless bird similar to the ostrich. The Moa is a unique bird in having no wings not even small ones. But the Moa became quickly the prey of haast’s eagle, also a bird species and known as the largest bird of prey in the world. And around the nineteenth century the Moa became extinct.


The European came in New Zealand around 1642, the first to discover the islands were the fleet of the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman. He came with two ships the Zeehaen and the Heemskerck. During 1769 and 1770 the captain James Cook of the HM Bark Endeavour visited New Zealand. As from 1790 the British, French and American came along the waters of New Zealand and sometimes this made conflicts with the Maori people. When around the 1800s the traders arrived this gave even more conflicts between them.

The first child born from European in New Zealand was Thomas King. He was born in 1815 in the Bay of Islands. The treaty of Waitangi was signed in February 1840 exactly on the 6, in the Bay of the Islands, between Maori chiefs and British. William Hobson represented Britain. For the British at this time the treaty was to make of New Zealand a British colony. There were two version of this treaty one was in English and the other one in Maori.


But there have been a lot of debates betweens historians about the differences between English language and Maori language.


The English version of the treaty was translated by Henry Williams in Maori. Henry Williams was born in England in 1792. He married at the age of 26 and became after his marriage a missionary. He arrived in New Zealand in 1823 with his three children and his wife.


William Hobson died in September 1842 and Robert FitzRoy became the new Governor. As Governor he tried to legalise some Maori custom. After Robert FitzRoy it was George Grey who became Governor. George Grey was born in Portugal in 1812 and his father died a few days after his birth in the Battle of Badajoz. He has been also the Governor of South Australia from 1841 to 1845. In 1861 Grey was again declared as Governor until 1868 and in 1877 he became Premier and served until 1879. He died in September 1898.


After the British settlement, there were more and more who came from Europe to settle provinces. It started from South to North. In the South Island Otago was settled as from 1848 its capital is Dunedin, Canterbury settled as from 1850 and has as capital Christchurch, after came Westland, Nelson, and Malborough. In the North Island, Wellington settlement started as from 1840, then Taranaki, Auckland and Hawke’s Bay.

In 1840 New Zealand was declared as part of the Australian colony of the New South Wales. In May 1841 New Zealand was an independent colony.



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