New Zealand is a young country in terms of its human history. It was the last large and livable place in the world to be discovered. The first people to arrive in New Zealand were Polynesian ancestors of the Māori, between 1200 and 1300 AD.
The term 'Māori' did not exist until the Europeans arrived. It means 'ordinary' and the Māori used it to distinguish themselves from the new, fair-skinned European settlers.
The first European to arrive in New Zealand was the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642. European whalers and sealers then visited regularly, followed by traders.
During the 1830s, the British government tried to reduce lawlessness in the country.
In 1840 at Waitangi, New Zealand’s first Governor invited Māori chiefs to sign a treaty with Britain. More than 500 chiefs eventually signed throughout the country.
European settlers wanted the Māori to sell their land. This led to conflict and, in the 1860s, war broke out on the North Island.
On the South Island, settlers farmed sheep. Gold was discovered in 1861.
In the 1870s, thousands of British people started a new life in New Zealand. Railways were built and towns expanded.
In 1882, the first shipment of frozen meat from New Zealand made it successfully to England.
In 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant all women the right to vote.
New Zealand sent troops to fight for Britain in the South African War in 1899.
In the late 1890s, New Zealand became independent.
Thousands of New Zealanders served and died overseas in World War I.
New Zealand troops fought overseas in World War II, in Korea in the 1950s, and in Vietnam in the 1960s.
Britain was an important destination for farm products. When Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973, New Zealand lost that important market.
Since the 1980s, a wide range of ethnic groups have been encouraged to settle in New Zealand, making it more multicultural.
Source: A brief history of New Zealand
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