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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

New Zealand History and Culture

The first settlers were Polynesians (Maoris), believed to have originated from the Cook Islands or the Marquesas. According to Maori legend, it was the great Polynesian voyager Kupe who made the first journey to New Zealand, named it Aotearoa, "Land of the Long White Cloud". They were a fierce, warlike people and practiced cannibalism.

It was Abel Janszoon Tasman, a Dutch who was the first European to have sighted New Zealand in 1642, and called it Staten Landt, later renamed as Nieuw Zeeland. In 1769, the English explorer Captain James Cook landed on New Zealand and made perhaps the greatest impact on New Zealand exploration. In 1840, New Zealand was declared a British colony and this triggered a wave of migration from sealers, whalers and timber cutters.

A succession of wars between the British Crown and various Maori tribes took place in the mid 19th century as disputes over land claims and fraudulent sales raged. When gold was discovered in South Island in the 1860s, the three years of the gold rush doubled New Zealand's European population.

The majority of New Zealand's population is from Great Britain. However, the movement towards independence from Great Britain was slow and was only achieved in 1947.

The Maori, New Zealand's indigenous people are the first settlers and are also known as the Tangata Whenua (people of the land). Their culture, known as Maoritanga represents the full expression of the Maori way of life and their outlook on the world. They were agriculturalists and hunters.

The Maori society today is still a tribal society and like most tribal societies, power is in the hands of the chiefs and elders. Their culture has traditionally been handed down from one generation to the next through carvings, art, story telling, waiata, and reciting whakapapa (genealogies).


Acknowledgements: ASIATRAVELMART.COM

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