Culture & History
New Zealand History and Culture
New Zealand's thriving Maori culture and carefree attitude combine for a truly unique way of life.
The Māori people were the first to arrive in New Zealand, journeying from their Polynesian homeland, Hawaiki, approximately1,000 years ago in seven legendary migratory canoes. A Dutchman, Abel Tasman, was the first European to sight the country but it was ultimately the British who made New Zealand a part of their empire.
In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed as an agreement between the British Crown and Maori. This treaty is considered New Zealand’s founding document and an important part of the country's history. The building where the treaty was signed has been preserved and, today, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, near Kauri Cliffs, are a popular attraction.
While New Zealand is still influenced by its colonial heritage, the country has its own strong sense of identity, a thriving indigenous Maori culture and what many consider to be some of the friendliest people in the world.
Throughout New Zealand you'll uncover unique Māori historic sites and taonga (treasures), as well as beautiful colonial-era buildings. A walk around any New Zealand city today shows what a culturally diverse and fascinating country it has become.