The Colonisation of New Zealand

1. Who were they, how did they live? The Maori were the original people to inhabit New Zealand. Studies have shown that the Maori came to New Zealand over 1,500 years ago. They came in canoes from Tahiti and other islands in the Pacific. By the 1600’s the Maori had developed into a complex society; they even had their own religion. The Maori had split up into tribes and different tribes lived in different areas. The Maori had turned from hunting to farming and harvesting food. They even found that wood was easy to build houses with.
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How did the empire colonise the nation? The first European settlers were sealers. They set up camps along the South Island coast in the 1790s. The Maori called the Europeans Pakehas. Most of the settlers were British. They brought new tools, animals, and crops to New Zealand. They also brought diseases that the Maori had never known before. Tuberculosis, venereal disease, measles, and influenza spread rapidly through Maori villages. These diseases caused a 50 percent decline in the Maori population between 1820 and 1920.
The Maoris did not quite understand what the British settlers were trying to do. They ended up actually giving New Zealand to the British. More and more British settlers arrived in New Zealand. They brought land from the Maori for almost nothing. The idea of selling land was foreign to the Maori. They believed that the settlers were just borrowing the land. In 1840 the British government signed the Treaty of Waitangi with forty- five Maori chiefs. Under the treaty, the Maori gave New Zealand to the British Empire.

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3. How were they treated, were there any treaties?
The first Europeans arrived in New Zealand in 1790. They were mostly to hunt seals and gather flax. By the 1800’s, there was 100,000 to 200,000 Maori all living on the North island of New Zealand. The arrival of the Europeans upset the structure of the Maori society and displaced many of their villages. Then their population began to decline because of disease. In 1840, a treaty was signed by both the Maori Chiefs and European representatives. The power was passed to the British in return for the guaranteed possession of the Maori land, forests and other properties. Not all Maori were enthusiastic though and there were clashes between them during the 1840’s and 1850’s. The Maori believed that the return of new crops (potatoes, wheat and apples) was not enough to make up for the loss of their culture.

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4. How many were killed? Almost 15 percent mainly died from diseases. Did disease affect them?Yes disease definitely did affect them. Mainly the measles, influenza and tuberculosis affected them greatly and spread rapidly through Maori villages. Did they have to give up any degree of their culture, social structures and way of life? When the Europeans brought in the treaty, the Maori had to give up the way they lived. They surrendered their power to the British in return for their crops and a portion of their own land. Have there been any advances or gains from colonisation for the indigenous people? Well they traded the white settlers their land for crops and things like that so they did gain a lot from trading. Has the indigenous population been assimilated in the new society or are they still a distinct and separate group? They are worse off than the white people in New Zealand but the government is introducing a new program to help ‘close the gap’ between them.

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5. What is their position today? The Maori today are worse off than the Europeans. Research has shown that the average Maori family earns $10,000 less than the average European family and a Maori is three times more likely to be unemployed. Despite this, most modern Maori live a typical urban lifestyle. To close the gap between Maori and Europeans the New Zealand government has made a program to help the Maori people achieve the same living standard as the Europeans. Lots of Maori people work in the tourist trade because many people that visit New Zealand are keen to learn about the Maori culture. The Maori put on festivals, concerts and feasts for the tourists. At Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, Maori people can live exactly as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. There are tours for people to see how the Maori cooked, made clothes and carved. They can also see how the Maori use the hot springs for bathing.
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