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Milford Sound.  Photo public domain


New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote (in 1893).


Photo courtesy Bahag

“Land of the Long White Cloud” is the Maori name for New Zealand.

New Zealand is said to be the 3rd most peaceful country in the world and has been called a “people paradise”.  Let’s find out why.

THE Māori people were the first people to arrive in New Zealand. They came in canoes from islands in the South Pacific about the year 1300.  New Zealand is one of the last places in the world to be found by people and made a home. In Europe, it was already the start of the Renaissance [a time of incredible art, music, writing and building]. But New Zealand was just natural, untouched land.

     Seven small Māori canoes arrived at the north island and from those people began all of New Zealand’s people. The country is made up of two large islands: the North Island and the South Island. (There are also many, many little islands.) For more than 300 years, the Māori lived alone, apart from the influence of other people or cultures. But then a Dutchman named Abel Tasman discovered the islands. That was in 1642. About 100 years later, the British made New Zealand part of their empire after it was explored and mapped by Captain James Cook in 1769. 

     After Cook’s arrival, more and more people from Europe and North America began to arrive. In 1840 an agreement was made between the Māori people and the British Government that allowed Great Britain to rule over New Zealand. There were 3 parts to the treaty or agreement:


1. That the Queen or King of Great Britain would rule over New Zealand.

2. That the Maori chief could keep their land and agree to sell it only to England and not to any other country.

3.  That all the Māori would have the same rights as British citizens.

     The British educational system and many other parts of the British culture were adopted in New Zealand. Today, it has much more independence, but it is still a member of the British Commonwealth.  It has an army, but the army is used mainly for peacekeeping missions.

     New Zealand’s history has made it a “melting pot,” a place where many cultures have come together.  First were the Māori people and then the British. But there were also large groups of French, Scottish and Danish people who settled in New Zealand and influenced it. New Zealand is not only one of the most peaceful countries in the world, but a country that is made up of many different peoples and cultures living together successfully.

     Nearly half of New Zealand is devoted to farming: growing crops and raising farm animals. Most of its work comes from “gentle industries”: milk products, wool from sheep, a large fishing industry, and a large wood industry. The people’s lifestyle does not harm the environment but depends on living wisely with it. Also like Denmark, New Zealand has a “welfare” system that provides for people’s basic needs their whole life.

     There are four other interesting facts to remember about New Zealand.  1) It has a very rich culture in music and the arts.  2) It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. 3) There are 3 official languages: English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language for people who cannot hear.  4) For many years it has been called the safest place in the world to live.

     Q. What did you learn from this story? 

               Q. What things do you think help make New Zealand the 3rd most peaceful country on earth and the safest country on earth?  

 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - July 2021 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com