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The population was divided into iwi (tribes) and hapū (subtribes) who would sometimes cooperate, sometimes compete and sometimes fight against each other.
The Moriori population was all but wiped out between 18, largely because of Taranaki Māori invasion and enslavement in the 1830s, although European diseases also contributed.
In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand.
In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands.
New Zealand is a developed country and ranks highly in international comparisons of national performance, such as health, education, economic freedom and quality of life.
Since the 1980s, New Zealand has transformed from an agrarian, regulated economy to a diverse market economy.
New Zealand is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pacific Islands Forum, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
The official languages are English, Māori and NZ Sign Language, with English being very dominant.He wrote, "it is possible that this land joins to the Staten Land but it is uncertain", Māori had several traditional names for the two main islands, including Te Ika-a-Māui (the fish of Māui) for the North Island and Te Waipounamu (the waters of greenstone) or Te Waka o Aoraki (the canoe of Aoraki) for the South Island.The New Zealand Geographic Board discovered in 2009 that the names of the North Island and South Island had never been formalised, and names and alternative names were formalised in 2013.During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life.The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions.