New Zealand History

New Zealand History

New Zealand was discovered late: between 750 and 1000 AD, today’s indigenous people, the Maori, settled the country. The Europeans, mostly British, didn’t follow suit until the 19th century.

Native people

The beginnings of settlement in New Zealand are still not entirely clear: were members of the now extinct Moriori tribe who first settled the country? There is evidence that this Polynesian people lived on the Chatham Islands neighboring New Zealand. However, some researchers believe that they lived there before the Maori, who are now considered indigenous to New Zealand, and were expelled by their successors. The people died out in 1933 with the last Moriori.

It is also unclear when New Zealand was first settled. The dating of the Maori arrival is between 750 and 1000 AD. Legend has it that the Maori traveled to New Zealand in seven canoes from their homeland, presumably today’s Tahiti. Why is not sure; possibly their old home was overpopulated. They followed the migratory birds, the stars and the whales. Because the country was under a long cloud when they first saw it, their leader is said to have named it Aotearoa – the great white cloud.

The Maori brought crops such as sweet potatoes and pumpkins as well as rats and dogs with them. Well equipped, they settled in their new country and were initially left alone for the next six hundred years.

In 1642, Europe appeared on the horizon in the form of the Dutch explorer ABEL JANSZOON TASMAN. TASMAN traveled on two ships. His mission was to find a sea route from Chile to South America. Attacked by the Maori off the South Island, he decided not to go ashore and sailed on. But New Zealand was discovered. TASMAN has shaped the country to this day: A national park, Tasmania and the strait between Australia and New Zealand are named after him.


In 1769 the Endeavor, an English ship under the command of the famous Captain JAMES COOK, anchored off New Zealand’s North Island. COOK, whose mission was to explore the completely unexplored Australia, traveled to both islands, made maps and kept a detailed diary. In the name of King GEORGE III. he declared the land taken. Today the highest mountain in the country, Mount Cook , bears his name.

According to ehotelat, the first whites to settle in New Zealand in the late 18th century were whale and walrus hunters, traders and missionaries. New Zealand became a station on British and American whaling expeditions in the South Pacific. The Maori, a warlike people made up of many tribes who fought each other, got along with the white invaders rather badly than rightly. 1835 founded tribal chiefs the United Tribes of New Zealand , (United Tribes of New Zealand) to their supremacy to emphasize as natives. As conflicts and disputes continued to increase and a government envoy could not get the situation under control, Great Britain declared New Zealand a colony in 1840 by virtue of the Waitangi Treaty.

For the Maori, this was a bitter surprise: the 2,000 or so whites who had already settled in New Zealand were followed by 40,000 more settlers between 1840 and 1860 alone, mainly from Great Britain, who volunteered to finance the crossing. Initially, the whites occupied the North Island, and soon they spread to the South Island.


In the 1860’s, when gold was found on the South Island, another rush began; Scots, Irish and many Chinese in particular flocked to New Zealand in a veritable gold rush.

This had an enormous impact on the ethnic composition of the population. On the one hand, a multi-layered and multicultural society developed. On the other hand, the number of native Maori has decreased dramatically. In 1900 the population of New Zealanders immigrated to half a million, but that of the Maori, after armed conflicts and diseases brought in by the immigrants, shrank to 40,000.

Overall, the population continued to grow, and more and more nationalities were added. From 1890 onwards 5,000 immigrants from Dalmatia (in today’s Croatia) declared the islands their new home. Many of them founded wineries that still produce the famous New Zealand wine to this day.

In the middle to the end of the 19th century, in addition to the gold prospectors, thousands of Scots came, partly to practice their religion freely, partly, like many Irish, because of deteriorating economic conditions in their old homeland.

The last significant surge of European immigrants so far came in the 1950’s with the Dutch¬†to New Zealand. This happened after a corresponding agreement between the two countries. In the 1960’s, residents of the neighboring Polynesian Islands came to New Zealand because it suffered from a labor shortage. Since the 1990’s, people from Asia, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea and Japan have been drawn to the two islands.

Each of the streams of immigrants has left its mark on the country. The Scots founded the first university, the Chinese shaped the horticultural industry and provided the New Zealand troops with food during World War II. The Polynesian islanders influenced food, lifestyle and art, Dutch gastronomy, landscape architecture and the fashion industry.

New Zealand History