New Zealand was long inhabited by the Maori people. The Polynesians arrived in Aotearoa by canoe. Aotearoa was also known as “the land of the long white cloud”. The exact date of the first arrival of the Polynesians is still debated but according to the legend there was a Polynesian explorer named Kupe who arrived in these lands in the AD 950. Kupe then returned to his homelands and about 4 hundred years later an entire fleet of canoes returned back to New Zealand following Kupe’s directions. Later in 1642 there was the European explorer named Tasman Abel who sighted New Zealand. However, he left the waters of New Zealand without actually setting foot on land. In the year 1769 Captain James Cook was the first European to come onshore from what is now known at Gisborne. The early settlers who came into the country were mostly working as sealers, whalers and in forestry. There was in a way a growing lawlessness across the country and buying of Maori land on a wide scale by the early settlers. The Treaty of Waitangi was put in place as an effort to bring law and order and was signed between the Maori chiefs and the British sovereign. The Treaty was translated into the Maori language to be signed by chiefs and the differences in interpretation have led to issues that continue to present day.
The relations between maori people and “Pakeha” (European settlers) were relatively good until 1860 when disputes over land led ito the New Zealand Wars. As result the government confiscated large portions of the Maori land and repercussions of thes acts still continue till this day. In 1861 Gold was discovered in Otago and economy boomed in South Island. The economy of New Zealand continued to expand in the late 19th century with its growing meat and wool trade. The population of New Zealand doubled in 1870s and in 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to allow womens the right to vote.
New Zealand fought with the British during the two World Wars and suffered massive casualties, especially at Gallipolis. New Zealand, as part in the war effort, is remembered on April 25th very year, Anzac Day.
When the UK joined the EEC in the 1970s economic ties with the motherland were weakened. New Zealand started to have stronger ties with its Asian and Pacific neighbours.