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New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous Māori language name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, commonly translated as The Land of the Long White Cloud. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica).
New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation: it is situated about 2000 km (1200 mi) southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.
New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major landmasses. The first known settlers were Eastern Polynesians who, according to most researchers, arrived by canoe in about AD 1250–1300.Some researchers have suggested an earlier wave of arrivals dating to as early as AD 50–150; these people then either died out or left the islands. Over the following centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into Iwi (tribes) and Hapū (subtribes) which would cooperate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Māori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their distinct Moriori culture
The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642.Māori killed several of the crew and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook's voyage of 1768–71. Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost the entire coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Māori timber, food, artefacts and water.
World War Two
New Zealand entered the Second World War by declaring war on Nazi Germany with Britain. The state of war with Germany was officially held to have existed since 9.30pm on 3 September 1939, simultaneous with that of Britain, but in fact the declaration of war was not made until confirmation had been received from Britain that their ultimatum to Germany had expired. Diplomatically, New Zealand had expressed vocal opposition to fascism in Europe and also to the appeasement of Fascist dictatorships, and national sentiment for a strong show of force met with general support. Economic and defensive considerations also motivated the New Zealand involvement — reliance on Britain meant that threats to Britain became threats to New Zealand too in terms of economic and defensive ties. There was also a strong sentimental link between the former British colony and the United Kingdom, with many seeing Britain as the "mother country" or "Home". The New Zealand Prime Minister of the time Michael Joseph Savage summed this up at the outbreak of war with a quote that would become a popular cry in New Zealand during the war:
- "It is with gratitude in the past, and with confidence in the future, that we range ourselves without fear beside Britain, where she goes, we go! Where she stands, we stand!"
New Zealand provided personnel for service in the Royal Air Force and in the Royal Navy. The New Zealand government placed the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy at the Admiralty's disposal and made available to the RAF 30 new Wellington medium bombers waiting in the United Kingdom for shipping to New Zealand. The New Zealand Army contributed the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF). In total, around 140,000 New Zealand personnel served overseas for the Allied war effort, and an additional 100,000 men were armed for Home Guard duty. At its peak in July 1942, New Zealand had 154,549 men and women under arms (excluding the Home Guard) and by the war's end a total of 194,000 men and 10,000 women had served in the armed forces at home and overseas. A total of 11,928 New Zealanders, or 0.73% of the 1939 population, lost their lives. Among other Commonwealth nations, the death rates were: 0.93% for the United Kingdom, 0.57% for Australia, 0.40% for Canada and 0.12% for South Africa.The 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force was formed under Major-General Bernard Freyberg and would see active service in Greece, Crete, North Africa, Italy, and Yugoslavia. The main fighting unit of the expeditionary force was the New Zealand 2nd Division, also commanded by Major-General Bernard Freyberg.
After World War Two
After seeing the UK in total disarray, the nation began to raise money with Australia to help Britain, but it wouldn't come close to what the Marshall plan would of summed up to. After a few years, large amount of immigrants from Europe began to flee to Australia and New Zealand which has increased the population. The Constitution Act of 1986 ended the last remaining associations of New Zealand with the British Parliament, but New Zealand is still close allies with the United Kingdom.