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Timeline of New Zealand history

Maori hunting moaMaori hunting moaNew Zealand was originally settled by people from eastern Polynesia around 1250 AD. Their descendants became known as the Maori. New Zealand was then home to giant flightless birds, such as the moa, and the Maori hunted them to extinction by about 1500. They then turned to cultivation of sweet potatoes, taro, gourds, yams and cabbage trees, or, where this was not possible, gathering wild plants. Wars between iwi (Maori tribes) broke out frequently. Family groups, called hapu, built pa (forts) to defend themselves and their lands.

European exploration

c.1250 AD Ancestors of the Maori arrive in what is now New Zealand by canoe from eastern Polynesia. Their name for the country is Aotearoa, meaning "land of the long white cloud". 

Tasman's crew meet Maori warriors in Murderers' BayTasman's crew meet Maori warriors in Murderers' Bay
Dutch explorer Abel Tasman is the first European to sight New Zealand. He arrives off South Island and calls it Staten Landt, before renaming it Nieuw Zeeland, after the Dutch province of Zeeland, in 1643. Four of Tasman's crew are killed in Whariwharangi Bay (Murderers' Bay) by Maori warriors while still at sea. Tasman later charts the west coast of North Island.

Hongi Hika (c.1772–1828) used European weapons to overrun much of northern New Zealand during the Musket Wars. He also encouraged European (Pakeha) settlement, introduced the Maori to western agriculture and helped put the Maori language into writing. He even travelled to England to meet King George IV.

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