Brief history of New Zealand summarized
A brief and enjoyable tour of one of the largest islands on the planet, New Zealand.
The Maori arrived in New Zealand in the 10th century AD. They named the new land Aotearoa, which means Land of the Long White Cloud. The Maori brought dogs and rats. They also brought yams and kumaras or sweet potatoes and pumpkins. The Maori also ate fern roots.
There was also an abundance of shellfish in New Zealand. The Maori hunted dolphins, whales, and seals and ate fish and shellfish. They also hunted large, flightless birds called moa, until they became extinct.
Maori society was tribal. Each person belonged to a family or whanau, to a sub tribe or hapu and to the complete tribe or iwi. War was common in New Zealand. The Maori built fortified settlements called pa.
They fought with long wooden sticks called taiah and short wooden sticks called patu. They also fought with short jade sticks called mere. People captured in war became slaves.
The Maori are famous for their wood carvings. They also make pendants or tikis from whale bones. The Maori are also famous for their tattoos or moko, which were made using a bone chisel, mallet and blue pigment.
Colonial New Zealand
The first European to see New Zealand was Abel Tasman on December 13, 1642. Ominously, the Europeans fought with the Maori and the Europeans were unwilling to return. However, the new land was named New Zealand after a Dutch province.
Europeans left New Zealand alone until 1769, when Captain James Cook arrived on his ship The Endeavour. The first encounters with the Maori were violent, so Cook named the place Poverty Bay and sailed away.
However, later, in Mercury Bay, Cook managed to make friends with the local Maori. He then circumnavigated New Zealand and charted it accurately. Cook made two more voyages to New Zealand in 1773 and 1777. Other European explorers, French and Spanish, also came.
In the late 18th century, seal hunters began sailing to New Zealand. The first group reached the South Island in 1792. Then, in the early 19th century, whalers arrived in New Zealand.
Sailors began cutting New Zealand wood for masts and spas, and a small group of Europeans settled there. In the early 19th century, some Europeans began buying land from Maori.
There are isolated conflicts between Maori and Europeans, but relations are generally peaceful. Maori traded food and linen for European goods, including muskets. Imported muskets made Maori warfare much bloodier.
The so-called musket wars were fought between 1819 and 1825. In addition, Europeans brought diseases to New Zealand to which the Maori had no resistance. On the other hand, they brought potatoes and pigs.
Meanwhile, the missionaries went to New Zealand. The first was Samuel Marsden, who arrived in 1814. At first, however, the missionaries had little success.
Then in 1817 the laws of New South Wales were extended to New Zealand. However, there was actually little law and order among the European settlers, and some of them turned to the British government for help. So in 1833 the government sent a man named James Busby as ‘official British resident’.
The British government was concerned about the way people were buying land from Maori and wanted it to be properly regulated. Busby’s job was to unite the Maori tribes into a federation that the British could deal with. In 1838 Busby was replaced by a man named William Hobson.
At first, the British government was reluctant to make New Zealand a colony. However, they changed their minds when they feared the French were about to do so. In 1840 William Hobson persuaded the Maori to accept annexation through the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Maori accepted the suzerainty of the British crown. In exchange, the Maori became British subjects and were granted possession of their land. However, despite the treaty, the British and the Maori soon fell out. Also in 1840 Hobson made Auckland the capital of New Zealand.
Meanwhile, a man named Edward Gibbon Wakefield created a New Zealand company and in 1839 they sent a ship called the Tory with settlers. They landed at Wanganui in 1840. In 1841 the company sent settlers to New Plymouth. In 1842 settlers were sent to Nelson on the South Island.
Maori became disenchanted with the Treaty of Waitangi and in 1844 a chief named Hone Heke cut down the British flag (a symbol of British authority in New Zealand) several times. He sacked the city of Kororareka and waged a two-year war with the British. However, he was ultimately defeated.
Meanwhile, more and more settlers came to New Zealand. Sir George Gray was Governor of New Zealand from 1845 to 1853. He bought large amounts of land from the Maori. In 1848, members of the Scottish Free Church founded Dunedin. In 1850 a group of Anglicans founded Christchurch. However, the New Zealand Company closed in 1858.
In 1852, the Constitutional Act divided New Zealand into six provinces. Each had a provincial council. In 1856, New Zealand gained self-government. Wellington became the capital of New Zealand in 1865.
Meanwhile, settlers brought sheep to New Zealand. It was well suited to raising herds of sheep and the industry flourished. At the end of the 19th century, a new breed of sheep, the Corriedale, was created by breeding Leicester or Lincoln rams with Merino sheep. Also, in the 1860s, gold was discovered in New Zealand, which gave rise to the gold rush.
The white population of New Zealand grew at a tremendous rate. In 1861 there were almost 100,000. In 1881 there were almost 500,000. However, the Maori were increasingly dissatisfied. Some North Island Maori appointed a king in 1858. In 1860, Maori resentment erupted into war. The fighting continued until 1872. As a result of the war, large amounts of land were confiscated from the rebellious tribes.
In addition, the Maori suffered from diseases introduced to New Zealand by Europeans and their numbers drastically decreased. In 1769, when Cook arrived, there were about 100,000 Maori. By 1896 their number had fallen to 42,000.
Meanwhile, a new era began in 1882 when a refrigerated ship called The Dunedin brought meat from New Zealand to Great Britain. Previously only wool was exported to Great Britain. Refrigeration allowed New Zealand farmers to export meat as well, bringing with it a new prosperity.
Also at the end of the 19th century several reforms were created in New Zealand. In 1877 all men were granted the vote. In 1893 women were allowed to vote. (New Zealand was the first country in the world to allow all women to vote in national elections.)
Meanwhile, in 1877 free compulsory education was introduced in New Zealand. In 1894 compulsory state labor arbitration was introduced. In 1898 old-age pensions were created.
New Zealand became a Dominion in 1907.
Meanwhile, New Zealand soldiers fought in the Boer War of 1899-1902. Many also fought in the First World War. Some 17,000 New Zealand men were killed, a shocking figure considering the population was only one million.
Also, in the 1930s, like the rest of the world, New Zealand suffered from the depression. In 1933 about 14% of the labor force was unemployed. However, the Labor government of 1935-1949 introduced further social reforms.
The National Party ruled New Zealand from 1949 to 1957, but the Labor Party was back in power from 1957 to 1960. Meanwhile, in 1956 New Zealand’s white population reached 2 million. The Maori population is about 135,000.
In the 1950s and 1960s, New Zealand became a prosperous society. Television started in New Zealand in 1960. The 1950s and 1960s were boom years for New Zealand, but that ended in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, in 1975 the Treaty of Waitangi Act was passed. He created a tribunal to examine Maori land claims.
Then, in July 1984, French agents bombed the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour. The ship was preparing to set sail to protest French nuclear tests in the Pacific. A Portuguese named Fernando Pereira was assassinated.
Furthermore, the early 1980s proved to be difficult years for New Zealand. The early 1980s saw rapid inflation and high unemployment. A new Labor government came to power in 1984 and deregulated the economy. They also cut the welfare state.
At the end of the 20th century the links with Great Britain weakened. Instead, New Zealand sought closer ties with Australia and Asia. The Pact for Closer Economic Relations with Australia was signed in 1983. In the 1990s many Asians emigrated to New Zealand.
Meanwhile, in 1993, the “first past the post” electoral system was replaced by proportional representation. In 1997 Jenny Shipley became the first female Prime Minister of New Zealand.
The disaster struck New Zealand in February 2011. Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake that killed 181 people and caused massive damage to buildings and infrastructure.
New Zealand continues to rely primarily on agriculture for its exports. New Zealand is famous for its sheep, although it also has many cows. Crops such as wheat, barley, peas, and apples are grown, and New Zealand has many vineyards.
Another important export is the kiwi. However, a major industry in modern New Zealand is tourism. Today, the population of New Zealand is 4.7 million.
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