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Last updated : Nov 2009
New Zealand History
New Zealand History - TravelPuppy.com
History

The first settlers to new Zealand were the Polynesian Maori, over 1,000 years ago. These were a well ordered tribal society led by hereditary chiefs and a powerful priesthood.
Dutchman Abel Tasman was the first European to arrive in 1642. The islands were charted and explored on the arrival of Captain James Cook, in 1769 and 1779.

British sovereignty was established in 1840, and Wellington was founded soon afterwards. In 1852 New Zealand was granted internal self government. The later years of the century saw a rapid growth in agricultural production, investment, and communications.
In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to extend the vote to women. In 1907, New Zealand became a Dominion and its armed forces took part in both World War 1 and 2.

New Zealand is a member of the Commonwealth. It is also a member of several other international organisations, including:
 Five Power Defence Agreement
 ANZUS
 South Pacific Forum.

When Labour Prime Minister David Lange, elected in 1984, membership of Western alliances were suspended as New Zealand was declared nuclear free. This prevented US and British ships that may be nuclear powered or carrying nuclear weapons from entering New Zealand’s ports. These policies put the country on the international stage, whilst Lange’s government was engaged in radical economic reform at home.

Lange resigned in August 1989, to be replaced by one of his Cabinet members, Geoffrey Palmer. Palmer resigned in September 1990, just before the general election in October 1990. The opposition National Party won this, they had previously been out of office for a decade.

This new Government quickly reversed Labour’s policy on visiting warships. They continued to express strong opposition to French nuclear tests in the South Pacific which was politically essential after the Rainbow Warrior affair, where French military personnel bombed the Greenpeace vessel of the same name, killing a person. In 1995 the tests ended and New Zealand resumed diplomatic relations with France in 2 years later.

A sharp recession occurred in the early 1990s. The economy had recovered sufficiently by October 1993 and the National Party was returned to office with a narrow majority. The party held on in October 1996, the first poll under the country’s new electoral system, but only with the support of New Zealand First (NZF), a newly formed party with a nationalist agenda.

Jim Bolger continued as Prime Minister, with NZF’s Winston Peters as his deputy and treasurer. Winston Peters was of Maori descent, the 1996 election was notable for the increase in the number of Maori MP’s, from 6 to 15. This came close to giving the Maori’s a representation proportional to their presence in the community as a whole.
In a number of respects, relations between the Maori and the mostly British descended majority of the population are still sensitive.

In November 1997 Jenny Shipley, one of his cabinet ministers, replaced Bolger. She then became New Zealand’s first woman Prime Minister. Shipley faced elections two years later, with another woman, academic Helen Clark, leading the Labour Party. The campaign was narrowly won by Labour, although, without an overall majority, Labour relied on the support of the environmentalist Alliance Party to sustain the government. In July 2002, the result of the elections was repeated although Labour is now reliant on the two representatives of the Progressive Coalition to maintain its power. Jenny Shipley has since been replaced by Don Brash as opposition leader, who now has the task of preparing his party for the next general election planned for July 2005.