After Cook came numerous other foreigners including many whaling ships and traders.
These were the first Europeans and
Americans to have regular contact with the Maori as they began to land on
the islands to trade. The Europeans got food, water and other goods in exchange
for guns and other European tools. Obviously these new goods changed the Maori culture
(especially among the costal Maori who traded directly with the ethnic Europeans)
as guns made wars more violent, but they also helped hunting, as did the metal traps
the ethnic Europeans traded. These guns also led to a series of wars on the islands
between the Maori called the Musket Wars, which lasted until the 1820s.
The first significant ethnic European settlers came in the early 1800s as missionaries
arrived. The Maori quickly converted to Christianity and by the 1830s the islands
were fairly peaceful as the wars had ended and the people were quickly converting.
These movements spread throughout the islands, beginning on the coasts and later
spreading further inland.
At the same time the missionaries were arriving, small private trading posts were
also set up along the coasts, most commonly on the North Island. These settlements
later turned into expanding ethnic European-controlled lands and potential colonies,
which led to wars and battles between the ethnic Europeans and the Maori. This raising
violence eventually led to intervention by the British
In 1834, under the encouragement of British representative
James Busby, the Maori declared themselves independent, an act that was recognized
by the British government. However, this only encouraged the ethnic European settlers
on the islands, who were private citizens, to further exploit the lands and to further
expand their boundaries, taking more lands and creating more conflicts. The only
difference was that after the British had left, their government had no power to
intercede and the Maori struggled to defend their lands, despite international recognition.
These conflicts eventually led to the British and
Maori chiefs (more than 500 in total) to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, which
gave both ethnic Europeans and Maori equal rights, although it was interpreted by
the British as giving them power over the lands as a colony. Whatever the intention,
in reality the ethnic Europeans dominated this relationship and soon settled most
of the lands, pushing the Maori into small settlements or onto poor farm lands.
This loss of land, which took place over decades (particularly on the North Island),
was truly a loss of Maori identity and a destruction of their culture in many ways.
Land was very important to the Maori as it was home to their ancestors and viewed
as public space that must be protected (although land ownership wasn't recognized
or accepted since it was for everyone's use). The loss of land also changed
the lifestyle of many Maori as their dependence on farming, hunting, and fishing
was being lost as they were forced onto smaller plots of land.
The effects of the treaty were also very dependent on the
United Kingdom representative in New Zealand.
Some governors recognized Maori customs, languages, and other aspects of their culture,
while other governors sought to indirectly suppress them by trying to assimilate
the Maori into the European-based culture that was being established in New Zealand
at the time.
The treaty also encouraged ethnic European settlement throughout the 1800s as many
young Englishmen settled, at first many who were self-sufficient. As farmers and
settlers occupied the most fertile lands (primarily on the North Island), additional
labor was needed so more immigrants were brought in. Among the many industries these
ethnic European settlers engaged in, raising sheep and selling their wool was among
the most common.
Another significant source of immigration came in the early 1860s when gold was
discovered on the South Island. While this vastly increased the population, it also
established greater trade routes to New Zealand, and
better infrastructure in the country. It also experienced a shift in focus from
the North to the South Island. Since most of the fertile lands in the country are
on the North Island, nearly all early settlement took place there, but with the
gold rush on the South Island, this now became the center of immigration and soon
after held the majority of the population.
With the rising population, and the rising wealth of the people of
New Zealand, at least the rising wealth of the ethnic Europeans, numerous
social changes took place in New Zealand's European culture. Numerous public
projects were established or expanded as education was stressed. Women's movements
also rose as women gained the right to vote in 1893. Worker's rights were also
expanded, limiting working hours and maintaining minimum working conditions. In
all, the country, society, and culture were beginning to look more and more like
Europe, but were perhaps ahead of Europe in some areas of
The shift from a Maori-focused culture to a very ethnic European-focused culture
put strain on the relationship between the two groups. During the late 1800s the
Maori lost much of their culture and identity, as well as their lands and their
incomes. The people were divided both geographically as well as culturally, economically,
In the late 1800s and early 1900s the ethnic European population sought independence
from the United Kingdom and briefly considered joining
Australia. Eventually New Zealand
decided against this move and a few years after Australia declared independence
(1901), New Zealand did the same in 1907. However, this change didn't give New
Zealand full independence, as New Zealand was considered a "dominion"
with the United Kingdom still holding many rights over their former colony, including
great power over their military and foreign policies. Today New Zealand remains
a dominion and member of the Commonwealth of Nations, although there are movements
to become a republic, hence ending this status.
In 1914 World War I broke out in Europe and
New Zealand immediately volunteered to assist the United
Kingdom. Many of these volunteers were sent to Gallipoli, in Turkey.
The battle seemed to be one the Allies were guaranteed to lose and thousands of
New Zealand soldiers lost their lives. To this day, this battle represents all those
lost in wars and remains a pilgrimage sight for Kiwis (New Zealanders).
After the war, things didn't get much better for New Zealand
as the Great Depression hit the country and their economy, primarily based on trade,
plummeted. This economic breakdown was followed by World War II (WWII), in which
New Zealand naturally sided with the United Kingdom
and the Allies. Despite being in the South Pacific, New Zealand never came under
direct threat from the Japanese and most of the soldiers from
New Zealand who fought served in Europe.
The war changed life at home as the cultural landscape was forever altered. Despite
having equal rights for ethnic European women for a number of decades, women went
to work more than at any time in the past as industry boomed (primarily due to wartime
Life also changed dramatically for the Maori during WWII and in the post-war years.
Some enlisted in the army, but more commonly, many took jobs in the cities to replace
the lost workers. This urbanized a huge percentage of the Maori population and integrated
the Maori and ethnic Europeans in a rapid time period. It also seemed to destroy
more aspects of traditional Maori culture. Although the Maori had been losing lands
for over a century, their move to the cities was a true shift in focus and priorities
as their previously strong attachment to their native lands took a back seat to
After the war New Zealand, as a whole, had to re-discover
their economic identity as trade had fallen during the Great Depression, then during
World War II their economy shifted from one focused on agriculture to one more focused
on industry. Also at this time many women left the workforce and started families.
With the WWI and post-war economic growth came extra spending money as the people
began to engage their free time in entertainment. The arts, music, sports, and movies
all became popular. More people began to purchase houses and cars during this time
as suburban areas grew.
In 1973 the United Kingdom joined the European Economic
Community (a pre-cursor to the European Union) and hence altered their trading habits.
With free trade among numerous European nations, New Zealand
could no longer compete on the European market and their largest trading partner,
the United Kingdom, significantly decreased the number of imports from New Zealand.
This was partially countered by signing a free trade treaty with
Australia and greater trade with the United
States, but it still slowly the economy and forced the country to shift
In the 1980s and 1990s the government continued to face economic hardships, which
led to vast changes. Many social programs were cut or reduced, defense spending
was re-evaluated, Maori rights expanded, and immigration, especially from Asia's
Far East, increased.
Today the economy in New Zealand has stabilized as tourism
has expanded and is rapidly growing while agricultural production is still a significant
part of the economy. The Maori are becoming more and more recognized in society
as many young Kiwis (both ethnic European and Maori) are learning about Maori culture