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
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