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New Zealand History Timeline

Map of New Zealand
Locator Map of New Zealand PACIFIC OCEAN

New Zealand's Information

Flag of New Zealand
Land Area 264,537 km2
Water Area 4,301 km2
Total Area 268,838 km2
Population 4,474,549
Population Density 16.64 / km2
Government Type Parliamentary Democracy (New Zealand Parliament) Under A Constitutional Monarchy; A Commonwealth Realm
GDP (PPP) $175.00 Billion
GDP Per Capita $37,100
Currency Dollar (NZD)
Largest Cities
  • Auckland (417,910)
  • Wellington (381,900)
  • Christchurch (363,926)
  • Manukau City (362,000)
  • Waitakere (208,100)
  • North Shore (207,865)
  • Hamilton (152,641)
  • Dunedin (114,347)
  • Tauranga (110,338)
  • Lower Hutt (101,194)
1300's - 1700's
  • (1350) Maori ancestors arrived in New Zealand on seven legendary canoes from Hawaiki (Great Migration)
  • (1642) Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, discovered New Zealand, claimed for Holland; Maori killed four of Tasman's crew; Dutch charted west of North Island
  • (1700 - 1730) Ngai Tahu migrated from Wellington to the South Island
  • (1769 - 1770) English explorer, Capt. James Cook, charted coasts of North, South Islands; claimed New Zealand for Britain
  • (1772) French explorer, Mar-Joseph Marion du Fresne, visited Northland; claimed country for France
  • (1773) James Cook's second expedition arrived Queen Charlotte Sound; Maori killed nine crew
  • (1790) Epidemic of rewha-rewha (influenza) killed 60% of Maori population in North Island
  • (1815) First British missionaries arrived
  • (1837) Colonization of New Zealand began
  • (1840) Treaty of Waitangi signed by Maori chiefs and representatives of Queen Victoria of England; British law established in New Zealand; first capital established at Okiato (Russell)
  • (1841) Capital moved from Russell to Auckland; New Zealand declared official crown colony
  • (1842) 22 European settlers, four Maori killed at confrontation at Tuamarina
  • (1845 - 1872) New Zealand Wars (Land Wars); Maori resisted British colonial rule
  • (1845) Chief Hono-Heke led 700 Maoris in protest, burned town of Kororareka
  • (1846) First New Zealand Constitution Act passed; country divided into two provinces
  • (1848) Coal discovered at Brunner; earthquake damaged most buildings in Wellington
  • (1850) Christchurch founded
  • (1852) Second New Zealand Constitution Act passed, General Assembly and six provinces created
  • (1854) First session of General Assembly held in Auckland
  • (1855) Severe earthquake on both sides of Cook Strait caused land in Wellington to raise, plans for shipping basin canceled
  • (1856) Henry Sewell formed first ministry in government, became first premier
  • (1859) Gold discovered in Buller
  • (1860) First Taranki War occurred; New Zealand held general election
  • (1861) Gold discovered; Otago gold rush began; truce completed with Taranaki Maori
  • (1862) First telegraph lined opened from Christchurch to Lyttelton
  • (1863 - 1864) Waikato Wars occurred
  • (1864) HMS Orpheus sank in Manukau Harbour, 189 killed; Waitkato War ended with battle of Orakau
  • (1865) Capital, seat of government moved to Wellington; Auckland streets lit by gas
  • (1867) Parliament established four Maori seats; all Maori men over 21 allowed to vote
  • (1876) Provinces abolished, local government by counties and boroughs established; telegraph link established between Britain, New Zealand
  • (1879) Explosion at Kaitangata coal mine killed 34; suffrage extended to all males over 21; annual property tax introduced
  • (1886) Mount Tarawera erupted on North Island, 155 killed, several Maori, European settlements destroyed; oil discovered in Taranaki
  • (1890) Australian, New Zealand Maritime Strike involved 8,000 unionists
  • (1893) New Zealand first country in world to grant women right to vote
  • (1894) SS Wairarapa struck reef at Great Barrier Island, sunk, 140 died
  • (1896) National Council of Women founded; explosion at Brunner Mine killed 67
  • (1898) New Zealand first country in world to give elderly a pension (Old Age Pensions Act)


  • (1901) Cook and other Pacific Islands annexed, made part of New Zealand
  • (1902) Steamer SS Elingamite sunk with large consignment of gold off North Coast, 45 died
  • (1903) Aviator Richard Pearse flew self-made, mono-winged airplane at Waitohi
  • (1907) New Zealand became Dominion; fire destroyed Parliament buildings
  • (1914) World War I began; New Zealand committed troops to British war effort; New Zealand troops landed at Anzac Cove in Turkey
  • (1917) 3,700 New Zealanders killed at Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium
  • (1918) Influenza epidemic in New Zealand killed over 8,000; World War I ended; prohibition petition with 242,001 signatures presented to Parliament
  • (1919) Women became eligible to run for Parliament
  • (1920) ANZAC Day established
  • (1931) Napier, Hastings devastated by earthquake, 256 people killed, thousands required medical care
  • (1939 - 1945) World War II fought
  • (1940) New Zealand declared war on Italy; ocean liner, RMS Niagara, struck land mine, sunk; German land mines laid in Hauraki Gulf
  • (1941) New Zealand suffered heavy losses in Battle of Crete; New Zealand declared war on Japan after attack on Pearl Harbor
  • (1942) American Army troops arrived in Auckland; American Marines arrived in Wellington
  • (1943) New Zealand troops invaded Italy; Japanese prisoners of war rioted at Featherston camp, 48 Japanese killed, 61 wounded, one guard killed, 11 injured; over 1,000 American, New Zealand troops rioted in Wellington (Battle of Manners Street)
  • (1947) Mabel Howard became first woman cabinet minister; New Zealand gained full independence from Britain; fire in Ballantyne's department store in Christchurch killed 41
  • (1948) Polio epidemic closed schools; Mounts Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe erupted
  • (1950) New Zealand troops served with UN forces in Korean War (1950 - 1953)
  • (1951) ANZUS security treaty signed between New Zealand, Australia, USA; strike by watersiders lasted 151 days
  • (1953) Edmund Hillary of New Zealand, Tensing Norgay of Nepal became first climbers to reach summit of Mount Everest; flood swept express train away at Tangiwai, 151 killed
  • (1961) New Zealand joined International Monetary Fund; capital punishment abolished
  • (1962) Western Samoa became independent from New Zealand; New Zealand troops sent to Malaysia during Indonesian confrontation
  • (1965) NAFTA agreement negotiated with Australia; Cook Island became self-governing
  • (1975 Maori protested land loss, began march at Te Hapua, arrived Wellington
  • (1977) 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) established
1900's continued
  • (1979) Air New Zealand flight crashes on Mount Erebus, Antarctica, 257 killed
  • (1981) Riots broke out all over New Zealand in protest of South African rugby tour, described as worst 56 days in history of New Zealand
  • (1985) New Zealand refused US nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships to enter ports, breaking ANZUS pact; established itself as world's first anti-nuclear country; French sunk Greenpeace vessel, Rainbow Warrior, at Auckland
  • (1986) Constitution Act ended right of British Parliament to pass laws for New Zealand; Pope made first visit to New Zealand
  • (1995) Team New Zealand won America's Cup
  • (1996) Government agreed to settle land claim filed by Maoris, Ngai Tahu people to receive land and cash worth $117 million, regained some fishing rights
  • (1997) Activist attack damaged America's Cup; Auckland's Sky Tower opened; Customs investigated claims of odometer fraud on imported Japanese cars
  • (1998) Waitangi Tribunal ordered government to return confiscated land in Turangi to Maori owners; Women's rugby team, Black Ferns, became world champions; tuberculosis discovered in South Auckland; power cables failed in Auckland, city left without full power for over a month
  • (1999) Peter Jackson began filming "Lord of the Rings" trilogy
  • (2000) Team New Zealand successfully defended America's Cup
  • (2001) Thousands of red fire ants found at Auckland International Airport; New Zealand suffered severe summer drought; Government rescued Air New Zealand
  • (2003) Tens of thousands of New Zealanders demonstrated against Iraq war; Australia, New Zealand began withdrawing troops from Solomon Islands; four Latvian climbers plunged to their deaths from Mount Cook; pilot Kelvin Stark killed while flying new plane to California, plane was first passenger plane built in New Zealand designed for skydiving; avalanche swept down Mount Tasman, killed four climbers, injured two
  • (2004) 3,400 gallons of fuel spilled in fjord listed as World Heritage site, officials said spill was eco-terrorism and economic sabotage against tourism industry
  • (2006) New Zealand troops joined intervention forces in East Timor
  • (2007) Police arrested 17 in anti-terror raid, Maori activists accused of planning violence against country's white majority
  • (2008) Mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary died

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