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ABOUT NEW ZEALAND - HISTORY

Around the 10th century. Polynesians settlers arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand around the tenth century, and by the twelfth century settlements were scattered over most of the country.

What the Polynesians found was a land much different to the South Pacific tropical isles of Polynesia. Instead they found a land of mountains with a more seasonal climate. There were no large mammals to hunt for food, but there was a large flightless bird called the Moa. It that stood up to 15 feet tall and the Maoris found it easy prey. By the time Europeans had reached New Zealand the Moa was hunted to extinction.

Abel van Tasman was the first European explorer to see New Zealand in 1642, but it was Captain James Cook who first set foot on New Zealand soil in 1769.

The first permanent settlers didn't arrive until the 1830's. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, giving sovereignty of New Zealand to Britain. The Maori were persuaded to cede vast tracts of land for mere token payments, but soon the Maori realised the true worth of what they had given away. The Maori rose up and attacked the British settlements repeatedly.

Today New Zealand is a relatively peaceful country and the people are extraordinarily friendly and outgoing. One quarter of New Zealand is protected wilderness and much of the country is pollution free.




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