The descendants of these settlers became known as the Māori, forming a distinct culture of their own.
The separate settlement of the tiny Chatham Islands in the east of New Zealand about 1500 CE produced the Moriori; linguistic evidence indicates that the Moriori were mainland Māori who ventured eastward.
was the first European explorer to circumnavigate and map New Zealand.
From the late 18th century, the country was regularly visited by explorers and other sailors, missionaries, traders and adventurers.
The interventionist policies of the Third National Government were replaced by "Rogernomics", a commitment to a free market economy.
Foreign policy after 1980 became more independent especially in pushing for a nuclear-free zone.
When World War II broke out in 1939, New Zealanders contributed to the defence of the British Empire; the country contributed some 120,000 troops.
From the 1930s the economy was highly regulated and an extensive welfare state was developed.As elsewhere in the Pacific, cannibalism was part of warfare.Leadership was based on a system of chieftainship, which was often but not always hereditary, although chiefs (male or female) needed to demonstrate leadership abilities to avoid being superseded by more dynamic individuals.In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and various Māori chiefs, bringing New Zealand into the British Empire and giving Māori the same rights as British subjects.There was extensive British settlement throughout the rest of the century and into the early part of the next century.The original settlers quickly exploited the abundant large game in New Zealand, such as moa, which were large flightless ratites pushed to extinction by about 1500.