New Zealand Brief History

By | November 2, 2021

After my six-week round trip on the North and South Islands, when I drove about 4,500 kilometers by rental car (in left-hand traffic), traveled just over 1,000 kilometers by local buses and walked almost 400 kilometers, I can state that New Zealand is a very beautiful land and is easy to travel in. Here there are no tropical diseases to be afraid of or poisonous snakes, and everywhere you meet friendly people.

Geologically, New Zealand is extremely exciting. Here are extinct and active volcanoes, geothermal areas where you can study phenomena such as boiling mud, sulfur-stinking hot springs and geysers. Nowhere in the world is the earth’s crust as thin as at Rotorua.

Naturally, there are many highlights in New Zealand and several of the areas are included on UNESCO’s list of World Natural Heritage. The hiking trails are many, from short and easy to hike to quite long and demanding.

Some of the scenic and geologically interesting places I visited were Tongariro National Park, the Coromandel Peninsula, the Bay of Islands, the thermal areas around Rotorua and Wai-O-Tapu, Pancake Rocks, the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, Wamena Lake, the nature around Queenstown, Glenorchy , Milford Sound, Mount Cook National Park, Mount Aspirin National Park, etc.

New Zealand is unfortunately another example of a country destroyed by European colonialism in the 19th century; abuses of the indigenous people, devastated forests, planting of animal and plant species that threaten the local fauna and flora, etc.

New Zealand history in brief

New Zealand history, older

Scientists have not been able to determine exactly when, or how, the Maori indigenous people came to New Zealand, or Aoteatroa, the land of the long white cloud, as it is called in the Maori language. However, they believe that the Maori came from the eastern part of Polynesia sometime between the 8th and 13th centuries. According to a Maori legend, the Polynesian seafarer Kupe discovered New Zealand when he followed an octopus out to sea.


According to computerannals, the Dutchman Abel Tasman is considered the European who discovered New Zealand during a mission on behalf of the East India Company. He passed the west coast of the islands but is said to have never landed. Dutch authorities named the country after the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands. Abel Tasman gave the name to the Australian island of Tasmania

1769 – 1770

Landed British explorer James Cook as he sailed around the islands and explored its shores. At this time, New Zealand was inhabited by a Maori people divided into several autonomous tribes, who often fought bloody battles against each other.


During this period, European seal and whale hunters began to establish themselves on the coasts of New Zealand, and after the turn of the century, the country became the base for whale and seal hunting in the Antarctic waters. With the whalers came the missionaries. Both Protestants and Catholics set up mission stations

19th century, middle Most Maori had become Christians


The settlers’ demands for land created constant conflicts with the Maori. Through the Waitangi Treaty, the Maori recognized the supremacy of the British crown over New Zealand. In return, the British would give the Maori protection and guarantee their right to land. The Waitangi Treaty was signed by many, but far from all, Maori chiefs. It was not long before disagreement arose over how the agreement should be interpreted and the result was protracted wars between the colonizers and the Maori on the North Island.

1852 This year, the British colony gained limited autonomy and from


when gold was found on the South Island, immigration increased. The development of the North Island had been halted by the battles with the Maori, but on the South Island the sheep breeding began to take off


The Maori got the right to vote and four seats in parliament. The first prominent Maori politicians were all academics educated according to Western tradition


The first cargo of meat and dairy products was shipped to Europe and from now on increasing quantities of wool, meat, butter and cheese were exported to the UK in exchange for industrial goods.

1893 Women’s suffrage is introduced

19th century, late

Several social reforms were implemented which laid the foundation for a welfare state. Legislation was also passed on shorter working hours, national pensions and compulsory mediation in labor disputes

Due to European diseases and the use of the new firearms in tribal wars, the number of Maori declined rapidly. When Europeans arrived, there were between 100,000 and 250,000 Maori on the islands. By the end of the 19th century, they numbered just over 40,000

New Zealand history 1900 – 1999


On September 26, New Zealand gets some independence from the UK

1914 – 1918

New Zealand participated in the First World War as a British colony


From this year, the former German colony of Western Samoa, which became independent in 1962, was managed by New Zealand


The parliamentary elections led to the Labor Party coming to power for the first time. A radical political program was launched: housing, road and rail construction began, a 40-hour week and free health care were introduced, and union membership became mandatory for all workers. The farmers were guaranteed a fixed price for butter and cheese. At the same time, the Maori were given the opportunity by special laws to become small farmers on better terms than before


As a British colony, New Zealand participated in World War II. After World War II, military cooperation with the United States became increasingly important, and as a symbolic support for their policies, New Zealand sent a small force to Vietnam in the mid-1960s. Soldiers had previously also contributed to the Korean War


New Zealand’s struggle from colony to independent member of the British Commonwealth was long and undramatic. This year, the country became completely independent in terms of foreign policy

1949 – 1984

After the bourgeois Nationalist Party won the election, they ruled the country during this period with the exception of two terms, 1957–1960 and 1972–1975, when Labor was in power.


New Zealand, Australia and the United States formed the so-called ANZUS Pact for Common Defense in the Pacific


At the beginning of the decade, New Zealand was hit by an economic crisis. One important reason was Britain’s entry into the EC, now the EU, which forced the British government to abolish the favorable tariffs on New Zealand goods. The problems were further exacerbated by the international oil crisis


The election was won by Labor, which immediately embarked on far-reaching economic reforms. Credit and currency adjustments were abolished, as were all salary and price controls


In the election, Labor succeeded in being re-elected for the first time since 1946. Disagreement over economic policy grew within the party, while the economy deteriorated


In the election, the Nationalist Party won by a landslide and the leader Jim Bolger became the new Prime Minister. Market-oriented policies continued, but soon there were cuts in the social sector and extensive deregulation of the labor market.


Although the cuts since the 1990 election provoked protests, even within the ruling party, they won the election albeit by a narrow margin


The election was the first to be held since an electoral system with elements of proportionality was introduced and both major parties lost votes. However, the Nationalist Party was able to form a government again, now in coalition with the relatively newly formed right-wing populist party New Zealand First (NZF). Divisiveness and lack of political experience within the NZF contributed to declining opinion figures. After a coup-led change of leadership in the Nationalist Party, the NZF was forced out of the government. Jenny Shipley then became the leader of a minority government


After nine years of bourgeois rule, Labor regained government power. Led by Prime Minister Helen Clark, they first formed a government with the Alliance, an association of five center-left parties. The government was also dependent on support from the Green Party

New Zealand Brief History