• Solomon Islands!

    Solomon Islands: Looking up at palm trees. Go Now!

    Solomon Islands
    This Melanesian country is best known for its many islands and beaches... and this natural landscape (pictured) is why most people go. Don't miss out on the unique Melanesian culture and foods though! Begin Your Journey!

  • Tonga!

    Tonga: Coastline. Go Now!

    Tonga
    The heart of Polynesian culture is rooted in Tonga, but most visitors just come for the natural beauty. Explore Tonga!

  • Vanuatu!

    Vanuatu: Jetty into the ocean. Go Now!

    Vanuatu
    Picturesque serenity is a good way to describe Vanuatu, but the culture offers much more, including the inspiration for bungee jumping, which remains a rite of passage for young men. Explore Vanuatu!

  • Palau!

    Palau: "70 Islands!" Go Now!

    Palau
    Few people have even heard of this small Micronesian country, but those who have often return with stories of beauty unmatched elsewhere, such as view of the "70 Islands" (pictured). Go Now!

  • Explore the: Federated States of Micronesia!

    Federated States of Micronesia: Overlooking some islands. Go Now!

    Federated States of Micronesia
    This diverse country stretches for thousands of miles and has the diversity to prove it, including the people from Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap among others. Begin Your Journey!

  • Samoa!

    Samoa: A traditional home. Go Now!

    Samoa
    Among the most famous of the South Pacific's many countries, Samoa sits in the heart of Polynesia and has a culture to match. Begin Your Journey!

New ZealandThe name New Zealand, as the country is known in English, was named in 1645 after the region of Zeeland in the Netherlands. The Maori refer to the country as Aotearoa, which is usually translated to mean "land of the long white cloud."

Aotearoa

Introduction:

New Zealand is a country that has a history rooted in the Maori people, but today reflects that of Europe more than Polynesian in nearly every way and in nearly every location. New Zealand was one of the last places on earth that was settled by people and even today this natural state is obvious as the country is filled with natural wonders. When the first settlers did arrive, they came from Polynesia and brought with them their culture and lifestyle.

These first settlers, the Maori, lived off the lands and seas like other Polynesians and this dictated much of the lifestyle. However, many cultural aspects the Maori took part in came from their Polynesian past. Many of their foods, beliefs, oral traditions, language, ethnicity, and cultural aspects, such as community organization, social structure, and tattoos were all rooted in Polynesia and shared commonalities with other parts of the South Pacific.

Over time the Maori changed culturally and in terms of their lifestyle and diet, particularly due to their near isolation from other Polynesian cultures as well as new landscape, which is very different from most of Polynesia. However, in the 1800s the culture changed dramatically as Europeans began stopping on the islands regularly and trade began. Guns and other goods from Europe were introduced to many of the Maori living along the coasts and the culture and lifestyle began to slowly change as wars began, with a distinct advantage going to those along the coasts with guns.

More importantly, at about this same time, European missionaries began to settle the lands and many people converted to Christianity. This led to many changes in the Maori culture and lifestyle, but it also created peace, which inadvertently encouraged European settlement as trading posts soon turned into towns and cities and later the majority was ethnically European, not Maori.

As European settlement continued the dynamic in the country changed as many areas, particularly the North Island, became more European-influenced culturally. This expansion also stressed the Maori and their relationship with the Europeans, partially due to differing views on land use and ownership. This European expansion continued on to the South Island with the discovery of gold in the mid-1800s, giving the Maori even less space.

Relations between the two groups shifted multiple times as some Maori were integrated into ethnic European culture, while others fought for their rights. Ultimately, the two groups changed enough to get along and today there seems to be an understanding and expanding education on each other as they live unified as one for the most part. Aspects of Maori culture were lost, but aspects of European culture also changed to accept the Maori and their lifestyle. Today both groups maintain traditional aspects of their culture and lifestyle, but both have also adopted many aspects of the other's culture and lifestyle, making the people of New Zealand quite unique.

The small flag in the corner is that of the United Kingdom; New Zealand remains a part of the Commonwealth. The four stars on the flag are the Southern Cross constellation; the red, white, and blue colors are also taken from the British Union Jack flag.

Name: New Zealand
Independence: September 26, 1907
Capital: Wellington
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
Population: 4,365,113 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: European & Maori
Language: English & Maori
Religion: Christian & None

Information for New Zealand was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks