New Zealand History and Politics

New Zealand History

Who came first

The question of when exactly New Zealand was settled cannot be definitively answered to this day. Today’s native people, the Maori, were probably not the first to find a home here. Some archaeologists assume that people lived in New Zealand more than 3000 years ago. When it comes to researching the Maori, one is not entirely sure either. The current Maori culture was probably preceded by an older Maori culture. The Maori themselves come from the East Polynesian area.

The moa hunters

Some scientists also refer to the Polynesian moa hunters, named after their prey, the flightless moa bird. These were then probably followed by the Maori, who either drove these Polynesians out or mixed with them. In any case, the Maori came to the New Zealand islands in bursts and reached them by means of their canoes. What is certain is that they must have had great seafaring skills, otherwise their crossing would not have been successful. They often had to travel long distances. In any case, the so-called classic Maori culture already existed on the North Island around 1500.

The Polynesians as seafarers

How did the Polynesians, who lived like in the Stone Age, manage to conquer the Pacific Ocean? The boats consisted of hollowed-out tree trunks that were sealed with tree resin. A boom served to stabilize the boat. The boat had two hulls, similar to a catamaran. Plates were placed over these and food and people could be transported here. Whole large families and even herds of animals were transported in this way. The boats were propelled by paddles and a sail made of plaited pandanus leaves. Often the seafarers were on the way for several weeks, even months, and had to live on the provisions they brought with them.

The first Europeans

The first European to sight the land was the Dutch Abel Tasman. He probably did not enter it. That was probably in the middle of the 17th century. It was not until 1769 that James M. Cook actually set foot on New Zealand soil as the first European.

The first settlers hesitated

But the settlers came very hesitantly at the beginning, the country was somehow at the end of the world. Whalers, sealers and missionaries were the first to fight the Maori for their land. It was not until 1840 that the number of Europeans who wanted to settle permanently on the New Zealand islands increased.

Waitangi Treaty

In 1840 New Zealand was declared a British colony. In fact, the Maori and the British should have equal rights, as stipulated in the Waitangi Treaty, but in reality the Maori were oppressed by the white population. The Europeans brought in diseases such as measles, smallpox and tuberculosis and spread epidemics against which the inhabitants had no defenses.

The way to self-employment

Again and again there were clashes with the original inhabitants, the Maori, who were not happy about the newly arrived inhabitants who were fighting for their land. While the number of white settlers, known by the Maori as Pakehas, grew steadily, those of the Maori continued to decline. From 1841 New Zealand was a separate crown colony. In 1852 it received its own constitution and in 1856 almost complete internal self-government.

From 1860 gold was also found. As a result, more and more adventurers came looking for their luck in the “land of the great white cloud”. Around 1900 there were around 800,000 residents, made up of British, Maori, but also Chinese, Irish, Germans and Scandinavians.

Incidentally, New Zealand was one of the first countries to introduce women’s suffrage in 1893.

More immigrants

There was another surge in immigration during the Second World War. Many people from different countries fled. They came from the countries of the former Yugoslavia, Greece, Holland and other countries. So other cultures mingled with those already living there.

Share of Asian population is growing in New Zealand

Today, the proportion of Europeans among immigrants continues to decline and is growing on the part of Asian immigrants. The proportion of people who come from islands such as Niue, Samoa or the Cook Islands is also increasing. For a long time they served as cheap labor. There are now very strict immigration laws for people who want to settle in New Zealand. On the other hand, many New Zealanders emigrated to the USA or Australia.

New Zealand as an independent state from Great Britain

As early as 1931 New Zealand was granted the status of an independent state and in 1947 it finally became independent from Great Britain.

In the middle of the 1970s, people began to think about their relationship with the Maori, who had been treated as second-class people for decades. Even after violent protest movements on the part of the Maori, land was returned and compensation payments were made. That had been laid down in the Witangi Treaty many years earlier.

New Zealand crisis

Britain’s entry into the European Union in 1973 was a massive blow to New Zealand’s economy. The then socialist government under Davin Lange (1942-2005) had to introduce reforms in the mid-1980s to prevent New Zealanders from exporting their money abroad. So the economic system changed from a socialist and highly regulated economy to a free market economy. However, this had consequences for the population. Many people lost their entire livelihood. Pensions have been cut, civil servants dismissed, and state property privatized.

Another important turning point was New Zealand’s declaration that it wasto understand nuclear-weapon-free zone. That happened in 1985. To this day, there has always been an upset between the USA and New Zealand.

New Zealand is now a parliamentary monarchy.

New Zealand History