Welcome to New Zealand






New Zealand History


New Zealand History

NZ History

The first settlers of New Zealand were Maori ancestors who are believed to have named the islands “Aotearoa” which is Maori for the “Land of the Long White Cloud”. The people of Maori were part of the amazing spread of the Polynesians between a thousand and three thousand years ago across the Pacific Ocean’s remote islands.

Although the date of the Maori arrival in New Zealand has long been a subject of debate among scholars, the latest and strongest evidence shows that the first important Maori settlement in the country was established circa 1200 AD.


The culture of the Maori before contact with Europeans was dynamic and rich. The Maori were great travelers and traded goods through mutual gifting. Religion, mythology, and rituals were well-developed, and a large collection of tradition passed on identity, history, and practical knowledge.

It is widely believed that as early as 1504, Europeans may already have arrived in New Zealand. The first recorded visit was by Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer, in 1642. Four of Tasman’s men were killed by the Maori, discouraging more visits until 1769 with the arrival of Captain James Cook, British explorer.


He arrived in New Zealand during the 1st of his three exploration voyages in the South Pacific Ocean.

He came back to New Zealand at each and every one of these voyages. Other early expeditions were also conducted by the French to the islands such as those of Jean-Francois Marie de Surville, in 1769, shortly after the arrival of Cook, and that of Marion Dufresne, who, in 1772, was killed in the Bay of Islands by Maori.


The Maori interaction with Europeans from 1790 to 1840 changed its society in several ways. New plants (such as potatoes) and animals (such as pigs) and tools made of metal introduced an easier way of life. Maori subscribed eagerly to Christianity from approximately 1830, although they tailored the new system of belief for their own means and used conversion of religion as a way to gain literacy.
However, the introduction of guns by Europeans started the Musket Wars from 1818 to 1835. These were fierce inter-tribal battles that caused the death of thousands. With the equal distribution of muskets among the tribes, the wars ended.

History New Zealand

Diseases brought by Europeans such as measles and influenza also caused the death of many Maoris. There was a significant loss of life. The population of the Maori dropped from approximately eighty five thousand in 1769 to approximately sixty thousand in the 1850s. Generally, however, the society of the Maori bent but did not buckle under the weight of contact with Europeans.



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