Map Courtesy CIA World Factbook
New Zealand is an island nation state in the south-western Pacific Ocean. The country consists of two major islands and a number of smaller islands. A popular Māori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, often translated as The Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand is a parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth Realm. New Zealand is responsible for the self-governing states of the Cook Islands and Niue and administers Tokelau and the Ross Dependency.
New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major land masses. Polynesian settlers arrived probably some time between 500 and 1300 AD, and established the indigenous Māori culture.
The first Europeans known to reach New Zealand were led by Abel Janszoon Tasman, who sailed up the west coast of the South and North islands in 1642. The Dutch thought it was a single land which they named Staaten Landt. It was later named "Nieuw Zeeland" after the area in Batavia where they had been based, which in turn was named after the Dutch province of Zeeland. In 1769 Captain James Cook began extensive surveys of the islands. This led to European whaling expeditions and eventually significant European colonisation.
New Zealand became a British colony with the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840, which promised 'Tino Rangatiratanga' to the Māori tribes of New Zealand. This phrase, translated as 'Chieftainship" by the British, more accurately means 'Sovereignty' in Maori. This difference in translation continues to cause friction today.
New Zealand was involved in a Constitutional Convention in March 1891 in Sydney, New South Wales, along with the then-Australian Colonies. This was to consider a potential constitution for the proposed federation between the then-British Colonies. New Zealand lost interest in federating with Australia after this convention.
New Zealand became an independent dominion on 26 September 1907 by royal proclamation. Full independence was granted by the United Kingdom Parliament with the Statute of Westminster in 1931; it was taken up upon the Statute's adoption by the New Zealand Parliament in 1947. Since then New Zealand has been a sovereign constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations.This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "New Zealand".