It is believed that the first people to settle the New Zealand Islands were the Polynesian Maori tribes. The exact date of arrival of the tribes is unknown, but according to recent studies it happened between 1250 and 1300 A.D. According to one legend Maori – the Polynesian sailor Kupa and his beloved Kuma discovered this land in 800 A.D. and called it Aotearoa, which means “land of the long white cloud”.

The tribes first settled on the northern island and for nearly three centuries held sole possession of the land of New Zealand. They became one of the most intimidating peoples encountered by European travelers and colonists. The reason for this was cannibalism, which the Maori practiced in the religious belief that the power of a slain enemy passes to the one who eats it.

Until the arrival of Europeans, the Maori did not know or use iron, and used stone, whale and other bones, wood and seashells to make tools and weapons. The only domestic animals they had were dogs. At the same time, the Polynesians were very skillful navigators. In the vast ocean they were well oriented by the sun, the stars, the current and the color of the water, they followed the shoals of birds or flocks of whales.

Encountering European civilization

In the middle of the 17th century the Maori tribes encountered the representatives of the European civilization: in 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman arrived to the west coast of New Zealand. Wishing to moor ashore, he met aggressive local tribes and, losing part of his crew, was forced to sail for salvation. Reliving what had happened, Abel Tasman named the bay where the encounter with the local tribes occurred – Killer Bay. He suggested that the land he discovered was part of a previously unknown southern continent. Later, Dutch cartographers gave the land the name New Zealand, after the province of the same name in their homeland.


Despite an apparently difficult relationship with the native tribes, Cook nevertheless recognized the potential of this great land and annexed it to British soil before he began his voyage to Australia.

From then on ships with explorers, sailors, missionaries, traders, and adventurers streamed to New Zealand. The British organized a company for the exploration of the outer islands. The first ship to the shores of New Zealand landed settlers who founded the future capital, the city of Wellington. This happened in 1839. Later were founded the cities of New Plymouth and Nelson. Such activity disturbed the local population and conflicts between the tribes and the Pakeha became more frequent and bloody.

Modern New Zealand
Today New Zealand is a young state with a fairly high level of development and standard of living, which is involved in important international issues. The country has long been at the top of the overall rankings of prosperous countries, ranking 13th in 2018.