About 1,000 years ago, Maoris travelled in canoes from Polynesia to New Zealand, about 4,500 kilometres away. They called it Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud). The first European to reach the islands was the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, in 1642. In 1769, Captain James Cook claimed the islands for Britain. British settlers arrived in the nineteenth century, and in 1840 Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi. The country became a British colony and the British agreed to respect the Maoris’ rights to land. But the settlers and the Maoris interpreted the treaty in different ways and there were violent clashes. Maoris were given the vote in 1867. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the vote. New Zealand became independent in 1931. New Zealand today is a friendly and hospitable country. The pakeha (European New Zealanders) and the Maoris generally respect each other’s customs. The pakeha are learning more about Maori culture and how to behave in a marae, the Maoris’ special meeting place. Conservation is important to New Zealanders. They oppose the testing of nuclear weapons in the
South Pacific and they will not allow nuclear ships into their harbours. New Zealanders love sport. Rugby is the national game and New Zealand’s All Blacks are a famous team. Before a match, the players do a haka, — a Maori war dance. Bungy jumping started in New Zealand. This Is the sport in which someone jumps from a very high place, such as a bridge, with an elastic rope attached to the ankles.