History of New Zealand
New Zealand is the youngest country on earth - the last major landmass to be discovered. Despite this, New Zealand history is rich, combining both Maori and European heritage. The Maori were the first settlers, having made the journey from Polynesia about 1000 years ago and they named the new land Aotearoa – ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’.
The Dutch navigator Abel Tasman was the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642, but it wasn’t until 1769 that Captain James Cook claimed it for Britain and produced a map of the country.
The Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi is seen as New Zealand’s founding document, establishing the country as a nation. It was signed in 1840 between leading Maori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown at Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands, which is now one of the country's most historic sites. The signing of the treaty began on February 6 – a date which is cemented in the history of New Zealand and has now become the country's national holiday, known as 'Waitangi Day'.