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Aotearoa

Aotearoa is the Maori name for the country of New Zealand. The literal translation of Aotearoa is "land of the long white cloud".

New Zealand has been inhabited by Maori since approximately 1300 AD. Dutch navigator Abel Tasman was the first European to discover New Zealand during his voyage of 1642–43, although he never set foot on the land. In 1769 the explorer James Cook arrived in New Zealand and claimed it for Great Britain, but it wasn't until the late 1700s that the first Europeans began to settle in New Zealand.

In 1835 the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand was signed by 34 Maori chiefs. The Declaration asserted the independence of New Zealand, with all sovereign power and authority residing with the hereditary chiefs and tribes.

A few years later on 6 February 1840, Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) between Maori and the Crown was signed. The Treaty guaranteed Maori full possession of their land in exchange for their recognition of British sovereignty. The Treaty of Waitangi is regarded as New Zealand's founding document and remains a core point of reference for Maori and the Government.

Refer to New Zealand History Online for more details about the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand is also a valuable source of information.

Facts about Aotearoa New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the least densely populated nations on Earth.

Population: 4.7 million
Maori Population: 14.6% of the total population
Area: 268,680 sq km (similar in size to the state of Colorado or to the UK)

More facts and statistics can be found at Statistics New Zealand, the official government entity responsible for recording statistics about New Zealand. Specific Maori statistics are also available.

Map of Aotearoa New Zealand

Below is a map of New Zealand, showing the main cities and towns. Wellington is the capital city. It is interesting to note that while most of the main cities have non-Maori names, a significant proportion of towns and landmarks in New Zealand use Maori names. For visitors to New Zealand, it is these place names that often become their first encounter with the Maori language and its pronunciation.


Map of Aotearoa


Travel to Aotearoa New Zealand

For those wanting to travel to, and within, New Zealand, NewZealand.com, the official website of the New Zealand Tourism Board, is a great place to start to see some of the attractions and tourist destinations.

The Lonely Planet New Zealand book is also a very helpful and popular travel guide, and the Lonely Planet website has some information about New Zealand to get you started.

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