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New Zealand History Timeline

New Zealand's Information

Flag of New Zealand
Land Area 264,537 km2
Water Area 4,301 km2
Total Area 268,838km2 (#75)
Population 4,474,549 (#126)
Population Density 16.91/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
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
This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.

New Zealand Trivia

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Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand, with a surface area of 616 sq km.

The Largest Lakes In New Zealand By Surface Area

What is the Most Populated Island in New Zealand?

The North Island of New Zealand is the most populated island in the country. It has a population of around 3.5 million people.

The Most Populous Islands Of New Zealand

What Was the First Country to Give Women the Right to Vote?

In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to allow all women to vote.

What Was the First Country to Give Women the Right to Vote?

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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New Zealand unitary authorities, regional councils, 0 & their capitals

Region Capital
Auckland Auckland
Bay of Plenty Whakatane
Canturbury Christchurch
Chatham Islands Territory Waitangi
Gisborne District Gisborne
Hawke's Bay Napier
Manawatu-Wanganui Palmerston North
Marlborough District Blenheim
Nelson Nelson
Northland Whangarei
Otago Dunedin
Southland Invercargill
Taranaki New Plymouth
Tasman District Richmond
Waikato Hamilton
Wellington Wellington
West Coast Greymouth

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