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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The History of New Zealand

Posted by Unknown On 3:02 PM No comments

The Origin

Māori were the first to arrive in New Zealand, journeying in canoes from Hawaiki about 1,000 years ago. A Dutchman, Abel Tasman, was the first European to sight the country but it was the British who made New Zealand part of their empire.

In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, an agreement between the British Crown and Maori. It established British law in New Zealand and is considered New Zealand’s founding document and an important part of the country's history. The building where the treaty was signed has been preserved and, today, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a popular attraction.

You'll find amazing Māori historic sites and taonga (treasures) - as well as beautiful colonial-era buildings - dotted throughout the country. A walk around any New Zealand city today shows what a culturally diverse and fascinating country we have become.

Treaty of Waitangi

Signed in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi is an agreement between the British Crown and Maori.

Around this time, there were 125,000 Maori and about 2000 settlers in New Zealand. Sealers and whalers were the first Europeans settlers, followed by missionaries. Merchants also arrived to trade natural resources such as flax and timber from Maori in exchange for clothing, guns and other products.

As more immigrants settled permanently in New Zealand, they weren’t always fair in their dealings with Maori over land. A number of Maori chiefs sought protection from William IV, the King of England, and recognition of their special trade and missionary contacts with Britain. They feared a takeover by nations like France, and wanted to stop the lawlessness of the British people in their country.
The Treaty of Waitangi drafted and signed

As British settlement increased, the British Government decided to negotiate a formal agreement with Maori chiefs to become a British Colony. A treaty was drawn up in English then translated into Maori.

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on February 6, 1840, at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. Forty-three Northland Chiefs signed the treaty on that day. Over 500 Maori Chiefs signed it as it was taken around the country during the next eight months.

  • The articles:
The Treaty had three articles:
that the Queen (or king) of Great Britain has the right to rule over New Zealand;
that Maori chiefs would keep their land and their chieftainships, and would agree to sell their land only to the British monarch; and
that all Maori would have the same rights as British subjects.

It is the second and third articles have caused controversy through the years, mainly because of translation problems. Successive governments believed the Treaty enabled complete sovereignty over Maori, their lands and resources. But Maori believed that they were merely giving permission for the British to use their land.
Conflict breaks out

Disputes over ownership followed involving a series of violent conflicts during the 19th century. These became known as the New Zealand Land Wars, and were concentrated around Northland and the southern part of the North Island during the 1840s, and the central North Island in the 1860s. Both sides suffered losses, with the Brittish Crown the eventual victor. Land confiscation and questionable land sales carried on through to the 20th century, until the vast majority of land in New Zealand was owned by settlers and the Crown.
Today's Treaty

Following its signing, many of the rights guaranteed to Maori in the Treaty of Waitangi were ignored. To help rectify this, the Waitangi Tribunal was set up in 1975. It has ruled on a number of claims brought by Maori iwi (tribes) and in many cases, compensation has been granted.

While disagreements over the terms of the treaty continue to this day, it is still considered New Zealand’s founding document.

The grounds and building where the treaty was signed have been preserved. Today, the Waitangi Historic Reserve is a popular tourist attraction. There is a large Maori meeting house, the colonial mission house, an historic flagstaff, as well as a very long waka taua (Maori war canoe).

Arriving in Aotearoa

According to Maori, the first explorer to reach New Zealand was Kupe. Using the stars and ocean currents as his navigational guides, he ventured across the Pacific on his waka hourua (voyaging canoe) from his ancestral Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki. It is thought that Kupe made landfall at the Hokianga Harbour in Northland, around 1000 years ago.

Where is Hawaiki?

You will not find Hawaiki on a map, but it is believed Maori came from an island or group of islands in Polynesia in the South Pacific Ocean. There are distinct similarities between the Maori language and culture and others of Polynesia including the Cook Islands, Hawaii, and Tahiti.
Tribal Waka

More waka hourua followed Kupe over the next few hundred years, landing at various parts of New Zealand. It is believed that Polynesian migration was planned and deliberate, with many waka hourua making return journeys to Hawaiki. Today, iwi (tribes) can trace their entire origins and whakapapa (genealogy) back to certain waka hourua. The seven waka that arrived to Aotearoa were called Tainui, Te Arawa, Matatua, Kurahaupo, Tokomaru, Aotea and Takitimu. 

Hunters, gatherers and growers

Maori were expert hunters and fishermen. They wove fishing nets from harakeke (flax), and carved fishhooks from bone and stone. They hunted native birds, including moa, the world’s largest bird, with a range of ingenious traps and snares. Maori cultivated land and grew introduced vegetables from Polynesia, including the kumara (sweet potato). They also ate native vegetables, roots and berries. Weaved flax baskets were used to carry food, which was often stored in a pataka — a storehouse raised on stilts.

Tribal warfare

In pre-European times, Maori tribal warfare was common. Maori warriors were strong and fearless, able to skillfully yield a variety of traditional weapons, including the spear-like taiaha and club-like mere. Today, these weapons may be seen in Maori ceremonies, such as the wero (challenge).

To protect themselves from being attacked by other iwi, Maori would construct pa (fortified village). Built in strategic locations, pa were cleverly constructed with a series of stockades and trenches protecting the inhabitants from intruders. Today, many historic pa sites can be found throughout the country.


While Maori lived throughout the North and South Islands, the Moriori, another Polynesian tribe, lived on the Chatham Islands, nearly 900 kilometres east of Christchurch. Moriori are believed to have migrated to the Chathams from the South Island of New Zealand. In the late 18th century, there were about 2000 Moriori living on the Chathams. However, disease and attacks from Maori saw the numbers of this peace-loving tribe become severely depleted. The last full-blooded Moriori is believed to have died in 1933.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Posted by Unknown On 12:06 AM No comments

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