New Zealand History

New Zealand was first colonised by Polynesians (Maori) around 950 AD and about 1150 AD was re-discovered by Polynesians Toi and Whatonga. These first settlers were called 'Moa Hunters' or Archaic Maori. The Maori name for the country is Aotearoa which translates as 'the land of the long white cloud'.

Hongi (Maori greeting)

Hongi (Maori Greeting)

Te Papa Museum, Wellington

Te Papa Museum, Wellington

The first European to discover New Zealand was Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. He sailed around the islands without landing in 1642. The name New Zealand, or Nieuw Zeeland, was given by Dutch geographers, named after the Dutch maritime province of Zeeland. In 1769 Englishman James Cook navigated both islands and landed in many places. He named many places around New Zealand and had many dealings with Maori, most of them friendly.

Frenchmen, Englishmen and Italians also visited the country. Following the European publication of reports from all these people, the country became home to the hardy advance guard of colonists - whalers, sealers and flax and timber traders.

In 1814 the first missionary Samuel Marsden arrived and he set up the initial Anglican mission stations. With the missionaries came agriculture, soon to be the source of New Zealand's wealth.

By 1839 there were about 1,000 Europeans living around New Zealand and planned settlement from Britain began in 1840. Te Papa Museum, Wellington

As Europeans increased in number, the amount of land they needed also increased leading to the 'Maori Land Wars'. Many immigrants felt angry or tricked when they reached New Zealand and found that much of the good land was owned by Maori tribes. The growing economy undertook a 'correction' in the early 1880s, but new innovations, such as frozen meat exports, dairy goods, and the increasing mechanism of farming helped the situation.

Immigration has continued to the present day, swelling the population to just over 4 million people.

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