New Zealand

   A Pacific island Dominion of the British Commonwealth since 1907. The islands were first settled by the Maori, an Eastern Polynesian people thought to have arrived between 800 and 1300. New Zealand’s first European visitor, Abel Janszoon Tasman, came in 1642 in the service of the Dutch East India Company and named the islands after Zeeland, his home in the southernmost province of the Netherlands. James Cook charted the islands in 1769–1770. American and British whalers frequented the islands in the 1790s; the first Protestant missionaries arrived in 1814. The first British settlers came to New Zealand during the 1820s, but a determined effort in colonization began on the north island in the 1840s under the leadership of Edward Wakefield, a Quaker philanthropist and advocate of what he called “scientific” colonial settlement who also accompanied Lord Durham to Canada as an advisor in 1838. Wakefield believed that overseas colonies should yield a social benefit to Britain through the emigration of surplus population, not by forced removal or transportation but rather through the sale at attractive prices of “waste lands” in the colonies. In 1837, he established the New Zealand Association, a political lobby to persuade the British government to sell land in New Zealand to English settlers. In 1840, a delegation of Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the New Zealand Company in which they surrendered their sovereignty to the British crown while retaining their property rights.
   In the 1840s and 1850s, New Zealand was on course for a federal system, the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852, establishing provincial legislatures for six settlement areas and a national legislature with overarching fiscal authority. Conflicting interpretations of property rights became the source of bitter conflict between the Maori and the increasing numbers of settlers pouring into the country in response to the offer of land, the final acquisition of which violated the terms negotiated at Waitangi. The Maori Wars of the 1840s and 1860s ultimately left the Maori devastated but were followed by rapid economic development from the 1870s onward, especially in the expansion of pastureland for the production of meat and dairy products. In 1875, however, New Zealand abolished the provincial legislatures and established a unitary political system. In the 1890s, it also rejected federation with Australia .
   See also <>; <>.
    Belich, James. Making Peoples: A History of the New Zealanders from the Polynesian Settlement to the End of the Nineteenth Century . Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2001;
    Sinclair, Keith. The Origins of the Maori Wars . Wellington: New Zealand University Press, 1957.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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