V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > F. The Pacific Region, c. 800–1914 > 4. New Zealand, c. 800–1913
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
4. New Zealand, c. 800–1913
Archaeological evidence dates the earliest human occupation of New Zealand to around the 9th century C.E. (See The Pacific Islands in Pre-European Times). According to Maori tradition, the ancestors of the Maori people migrated by sea to Aotearoa (New Zealand) from Hawaiki, thought to be in the eastern Pacific. Maori artifacts and language show affinities with those of Eastern Polynesia. Many Maori genealogies trace tribal descent from ancestral canoes, each of which is associated with a particular area of the country. The Maori had a sophisticated Neolithic culture based on agriculture, fishing, and the hunting of birds. Maori society adapted successfully to New Zealand where the climate was much colder and vegetable food less abundant than in their area of origin. Maori people lived throughout the country but were concentrated in the North Island. Demographers estimate the Maori population was around 100,000 in 1769.  1
Concepts of prestige (mana) and the rules of sacred propriety (tapu) have always been fundamental to Maori religious and political life, reflected in sophisticated carving and oral literature. Land and ancestors were and still remain vital elements in Maori culture. Intertribal relations were intensely competitive and, in response to warfare, defensive engineering was highly developed.  2
The first contact between Maoris and Europeans occurred when the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman (See 1642–44) landed briefly in the South Island and gave the country the name Nieuw Zeeland. Tasman's stay was extremely short and had little impact beyond making the existence of the country known to Europeans.  3
1769, 1773, and 1777
CAPT. JAMES COOK led expeditions to New Zealand (See 1768–71). These expeditions transmitted information about the country's geography, flora, fauna, and culture back to Europe. Starting with Cook's expeditions, European diseases, plants, and animals entered New Zealand, bringing about important changes in the Maori population and the landscape.  4
In the 1790s Euro-American whalers and sealers began to establish permanent stations in New Zealand. Trade in products such as timber and flax, particularly with Australia, brought the Maori into increasing contact with the world economy.  5
In the first half of the 19th century the Maori remained the dominant culture in New Zealand. Quickly adapting imported technology to their own ends, the Maori exploited the new opportunities brought by contact with foreigners. At the same time, disease, the capitalist economy, and new ideologies transformed Maori society and politics. Relations with Europeans varied from place to place, largely in accordance with tribal political needs. A treaty between Maori leaders and Britain in 1840 established British authority over the country, initiating a rapid growth in immigration from Britain. Despite active political and military resistance by the Maori, Europeans had taken control of most of the country by 1870. Maori population and landholdings both declined, although charismatic leaders helped to maintain communal cohesion. After 1852 New Zealand became a self-governing British colony, and in the late 19th century its politics came to be characterized by a populist form of social democracy. Economic expansion, based on gold and agriculture, was stimulated by ambitious programs of government borrowing and public works in the last quarter of the 19th century. In the 1890s, New Zealand carried out a series of social reforms, including women's suffrage, social welfare measures, and government-controlled industrial arbitration.  6
Beginning with Samuel Marsden, English missionaries attempted to convert the Maori population to Christianity. Marsden established the first Church of England mission in the Bay of Islands. The missionaries also gave the Maori language a written form. In 1815 the first Maori-English dictionary was compiled, and more standardized and accurate orthography was developed in 1820. Literacy spread quickly among the Maori.  7
Western technology, such as clothing, guns, and metal implements, and food plants like the potato became pervasive among the Maori. Disease and intertribal wars prosecuted by chiefs such as Hongi and Te Rauparaha disrupted Maori society.  8
Maori people were significant participants in the growing commerce with the outside world, marketing flax to Australia in the period prior to 1831 and exporting large quantities of grain and legumes to New South Wales in the 1830s. Another transformation occurring at this time was the growing number of European residents, many of whom purchased land from the Maori. However, the Maori remained the key political force in New Zealand until the middle of the 19th century.  9
First record of the Papahurihia millennial movement, a Maori response to the influx of Christian ideas resulting from increased missionary activity, including the translation of Christian writings. It was the first of many prophetic movements fusing Maori belief and Christianity in the postcontact period.  10
James Busby became British resident, the first official representative of the British government in New Zealand.  11
A group of Northern Maori chiefs asserted their political sovereignty by drawing up a declaration of independence, later recognized by the British government.  12
Busby reported to the British Crown that New Zealand was in a state of anarchy. Although a distorted picture of the situation, this prompted the British government to intervene more deeply in the country. Opinion differed among the British in New Zealand; some wanted to safeguard Maori rights, whereas others wished to open the country for settlement. Both groups, however, called for intervention by Britain.  13
Founding of the New Zealand Company in Britain, which proposed sending immigrants to set up a colonial society founded on a strong middle class.  14
William Hobson was sent by the British government to negotiate with the Maori, paving the way for annexation of New Zealand.  15
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.