The original inhabitants of New Zealand were the Maori people. It is estimated they arrived in several migration 'waves' in New Zealand about 1000 years ago. The Polynesian navigator Kupe has been credited with the discovery of New Zealand in 950 AD. He named it Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud). Dutch navigator Abel Tasman sailed up the West Coast of New Zealand in 1642, but did not stay long after his only attempt at landing on New Zealands shores was repelled by the Maori. New Zealand was not rediscovered by Europeans until 1769 when the British naval captain, James Cook, and his crew, became the first Europeans to lay claim to New Zealand.

In 1840 a formal agreement was signed between the Maori people of New Zealand and European settlers. This agreement is known as the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document. The signing of the Treaty was between over 500 Maori Chiefs and representatives of the British Crown. This is commemorated on February 6 as New Zealand's national day - Waitangi Day.

NZ's capital is in Wellington, near the southern tip of the North Island, Wellington's central geographical position was the major deciding factor in the transfer of the seat of government from Auckland, in 1865.

In 1886 Mount Tarawera erupts, killing 153 people and destroying world renowned pink and white terraces – considered one of the worlds wonders.

In 1893 New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote.

By the late 19th century, the discovery of gold had engendered much prosperity, and wide-scale sheep farming meant New Zealand became an efficient and mostly self-reliant country. Sweeping social changes - women's suffrage, social security, the encouragement of trade unions and the introduction of child care services - cemented New Zealand's reputation as a country committed to egalitarian reform. New Zealand became a self-governing British colony in 1856 and then a Dominion in 1907. It took until 1947 however before New Zealand became fully independent.

NZder Ernest Rutherford was awarded the Nobel prize in 1908 in Chemistry, he was the first person in the world to split the atom (in 1919)

New Zealand had heavy losses in World War 1, and the influenza epidemic killed an estimated 8,500 in NZ. In 1915 NZ forces take part in Gallipoli campaign. In 1939 the Second World War results in NZ'ders suffering possibly the highest casualty rates per capita of any participant. In 1945 NZ is a founder member of the United Nations.

In 1953 we receive our first tour by a reining monarch. And Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay are the first to climb Mount Everest.

In 1973 the population reached three million.

For a developed country, New Zealand's economy is still very dependent on farming, although the old trinity of meat, dairy and wool has been supplemented by fruit, wine, timber and other products. Tourism is a major industry, and the country has been successful in attracting several major film productions, most notably the Lord of the Rings trilogy, directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson, which in turn bolstered New Zealand's tourism image.

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