A young Maori girl and a Maori lad in their traditional maori outfit.
Maori are a tribal people indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand and make up approximately 16% of the total population. New Zealand is a multicultural society - home to people who come from all over the world. It’s population is about 3.8 million, of which 75 % (approximately) live in the North Island and about a million people live in the Auckland urban area, the Business capital of New Zealand.
The Pakeha or the European settlers account for about 73.7% of the population, New Zealand Maoris – 15.4%, Pacific Islanders – 5.5% Asians – 5% and other ethnic groups about 0.4%. With its cultural diversity, anyone can attend any place of worship they choose. The largest religion is Christianity, brought to New Zealand by the early European settlers.
New Zealanders, the Maoris and the Pakeha, are all united under the nickname “Kiwi”. They are a self-made people and are well known for their do-it-yourself (DIY) attitude. They enjoy and take pride in building or redecorating their homes and working in their gardens. This DIY nature stems right from the days of the early settlers. When situations turn sour or seem impossible, the kiwis often say in their casual British accent, “ She’ll be right, mate!” This saying means that whatever is wrong will right itself with time.
New Zealand is known for its tradition of equal rights and also as a country that cares for its citizens equally. The country’s laws guarantee that every person has the right to a job, a place to live, health care and an education. This tradition began with the early settlers, who came to New Zealand to get away from the slums and class structure of Europe.
The first Polynesian settlers arrived in New Zealand around the 10th Century. By the 12th Century there were scattered settlements in favored parts of the country.
In 1642, the Dutch navigator, Abel Tasman sighted Aotearoa and gave it the name Nieuw Zeeland after a region in the Netherlands. He did not land here but mapped parts of the west coast.
In 1769, British naval captain James Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to set foot on New Zealand soil. Eventually sealers and whalers arrived followed in quick succession by missionaries, and settlements began to be established.
By 1840, the Maori population was estimated around 100,000 and scattered around the coast were about 2000 European settlers / Pakeha. There was no National government or leaders. Maori and Pakeha groups asked Britain to provide some kind of protection and law and order. And thus in 1840 New Zealand was established as a colony under the British Crown.
On February 6, 1840, the Maori tribes signed the Treaty of Waitangi, an agreement between the Maori people and the British Crown. This Treaty is recognized as the Founding Document of the nation. The Treaty gave the settlers a right to stay in New Zealand and also promised the Maori people that they would continue to own their lands, forests and fisheries. It also promised the rights of British subjects.
After the signing of the Treaty, more people began to arrive and settle in New Zealand. The South Island held the promise of excellent farming land and the prospect of Gold and so most people went to the South Island. Since the turn of the century however, the North Island has become more populated than the South Island.
In 1893, New Zealand became the First country to give women the right to vote.
In 1935, New Zealand elected a labour Government. The 1950s were a boom time for New Zealand with considerable industrial growth. The 1970s and 80s however saw an economic deterioration due to it’s reliance on imports and exports.
The Labour Party is in Government today with Helen Clark in the Prime Minister’s chair.
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New Zealand Maori is the indigenous language of New Zealand. It is a Polynesian language and the first language of about 50,000 Maori New Zealanders. While most New Zealanders speak English, the New Zealand accent may be very different from the one you may be used to. Give yourself some time to get used to it. Here are some typical Kiwi expressions along with the meanings.
|Kiwi expressions||What they mean|
|Bring a plate||When invited to a party/barbecue you may be asked, “to bring a plate”. This means taking a plate with some food on it to share|
|BYO||“Bring Your Own”. When used in a restaurant it means to carry your own alcohol, usually Wine|
|Cheers||An expression used by many kiwis meaning “it’s fine”, or “thank you”|
|Chilly bin||An insulated container for keeping food and drink cold|
|Smoko||Coffee or Tea break|
|She’ll be right, mate||Everything is going to be fine|
|PYO||“Pick Your Own”- used by fruit/vegetable stalls along the side of the road. It means you can pick the produce from the field and pay by the weight at the stall|
|Shout||Buy your friends a drink or a meal as in “it’s my shout”|
|Runabout||A small car or boat|
The general attitude of people around is friendly. It is normal to say ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ or ‘how are you today’ or ‘how have you been’ etc to anybody you come across when walking down a road, to the driver when getting on a bus or at a check out counter at a store!!
This part ends here. Another part of this article is coming up where one can get an information about society in general, standard of livng, culture and social system in New Zealand