New Zealand has 5 million people. It is an island nation consisting of two main land masses of North Island and South Island, and more than 700 smaller islands, covering 268,021 square kilometres. New Zealand was the last significant land mass on earth to be settled by humans. It is located about 2,000 kms from Australia across the Tasman Sea. New Zealand’s capital is Wellington and its most populous city is Auckland, both are in the North Island. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands, where the Maoris still controlled their lands (this was a concept open for misinterpretation). The annexed lands became a dependency of New South Wales, Australia, until 1841, when New Zealand became a separate colony within the British Empire. Under the New Zealand’s constitution enacted in 1852, the Maoris were excluded from political decision-making and prevented from setting up their own form of government. By then, it was clear the Maori had been duped by the Treaty of Waitangi. Land wars occurred between the British and the Maoris. Fighting abated in late 1860s, the final result was inevitable – the British won – and peace was declared in 1881. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the vote. It introduced old-age pensions in 1898, by giving a small means-tested pension to elderly people with few assets who were ‘of good moral character’. Although Germany had earlier introduced a contributory state pension, New Zealand’s was the first in the world funded from general taxation. In 1907, New Zealand became a British Dominion. It gained full statutory independence in 1947. Today, 59.2% of New Zealand residents identify ethnically as European, and 16.5% as Maori. Other major ethnic groups are Asian (15.3%) and Pacific peoples (9.0%). Close political contact is maintained between New Zealand and Australia, with free trade agreements and travel arrangement that allow citizens to visit, live and work in both countries without restrictions. In 2013, there were about 650,000 New Zealand citizens living in Australia, which is equivalent to 15% of the population of New Zealand. New Zealand has a strong presence among the Pacific Island countries. A large proportion of New Zealand’s aid goes to these countries, and many Pacific people migrate to New Zealand for employment. Permanent migration is regulated under the 1970 Samoan Quota Scheme and the 2002 Pacific Access Category, which allow up to 1,100 Samoan nationals and up to 750 other Pacific Islanders respectively to become permanent New Zealand residents each year. A developed country, New Zealand ranks highly in international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, education, protection of civil liberties, government transparency, and economic freedom.

  1. In about 2,000 words, I will describe major events that affected New Zealand from 1900 to the present.
  2. 1900 (to 1902) – New Zealand supported the British militarily in the Boer War in South Africa of 1899–1902.
  3. 1901 – Cook and other Pacific Islands are annexed by New Zealand.
  4. 1901 – New Zealand declines the invitation to join the new Commonwealth of Australia. It chose not to take part in the Federation of Australia in 1901.
  5. 1902 – Pacific telegraph cable begins operating between New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.
  6. 1907 – ‘Dominion of New Zealand’ is declared which is a constitutional monarchy with a high level of self-government within the British Empire. Previously it was known as a British ‘Colony of New Zealand’. The cities of Auckland and Wellington have been growing rapidly.
  7. 1908 – New Zealand’s population reaches 1 million.
  8. 1908 – New Zealander Ernest Rutherford is awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (for splitting the atom and researching radioactive substances).
  9. 1914 (to 1918) – World War One. New Zealand occupies Samoa, two islands in the Pacific Ocean (which at that time was a German colony). With a population of only 1 million people, a large contingent of 100,000 troops left New Zealand for Europe; and they took part in the failed Gallipoli (Turkey) campaign. Conscription was introduced. New Zealand suffered 60,000 casualties, mostly in France.
  10. 1918 – Spanish Flu (Influenza pandemic) killed about 8,500 New Zealanders.
  11. 1920 – New Zealand gets League of Nations mandate to govern Western Samoa (former German colonies).
  12. 1928 – Charles Kingsford Smith completes first flight from Australia across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.
  13. 1929 – Economic depression hits New Zealand.
  14. 1932 – Unemployed riots occurred in Auckland, Dunedin and Christchurch.
  15. 1934 – Airmail started between Australia and New Zealand.
  16. 1935 – Air services began in Cook Strait, that separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand (22 kms at the shortest distance). 
  17. 1936 – Working week is reduced from 44 to 40 hours.
  18. 1936 – New Zealander Jean Batten becomes the first aviatrix to fly solo directly from Britain to New Zealand.
  19. 1938 – Health care and social security are introduced.
  20. 1939 (to 1945) – World War Two. New Zealand declares war on Germany and Italy. About 200,000 troops from New Zealand saw action in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific during the war. New Zealand declares war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fears of a Japanese Invasion prompts precautions such as air raid drills. Conscription is instituted for military service. Membership of the Home Guard became compulsory for men aged between 35 and 50. Mutiny by Japanese prisoners of war at a camp in New Zealand resulted in 48 Japanese dead, 61 wounded, plus 1 dead and 11 injured guards. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Roosevelt of USA visited Auckland. About 45,000 Americans arrived to defend New Zealand from the Japanese.
  21. 1945 – New Zealand signs the United Nations charter.
  22. 1947 – New Zealand becomes fully independent through the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act. It was offered complete independence under the 1931 Statute of Westminster, but it did not adopt this until 1947.
  23. 1949 – New Zealanders become “British Subjects and New Zealand Citizens”. A National Government is elected.
  24. 1950 (to 1953) – Naval and ground troops were sent to the Korean War, serving with the United Nations forces.
  25. 1950 – Wool boom occurred.
  26. 1951 – ANZUS treaty signed between USA, Australia and New Zealand. The three countries are to co-operate on military matters in the Pacific Ocean region, although today the treaty is taken to relate to conflicts worldwide.
  27. 1952 – Population reaches over 2 million.
  28. 1953 – New Zealander Edmund Hillary with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay are the first people to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.
  29. 1954 – New Zealand gains a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
  30. 1956 – New Zealand troops were sent to Malaya (now Malaysia) to assist the British Army.
  31. 1957 – Last hanging as punishment took place.
  32. 1958 – New Zealander Edmund Hillary reaches the South Pole.
  33. 1959 – Antarctic Treaty signed by New Zealand with other countries involved in scientific exploration in Antarctica.
  34. 1960 – Regular television programmes begin in Auckland.
  35. 1961 – Capital punishment abolished for ordinary crimes such as Murder but remains for treason, espionage and “crimes committed during War”.
  36. 1962 – Western Samoa becomes independent from New Zealand
  37. 1962 – New Zealand Maori Council is established.
  38. 1962 – Cook Strait rail ferry service begins.
  39. 1963 – New Zealand troops were sent to Malaysia during confrontation (konfrontasi) with Indonesia, assisting the British Army.
  40. 1964 – Auckland’s population reaches half a million.
  41. 1965 – New Zealand sends combat troop supporting USA in Vietnam. Protest movement (against the war in Vietnam) begins.
  42. 1965 – Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean becomes self-governing.
  43. 1966 – International airport officially opens in Auckland.
  44. 1967 – New Zealand dollar replaces the pound.
  45. 1969 – Television is networked nationwide.
  46. 1969 – Breath and blood tests introduced for suspected drunk drivers.
  47. 1970 – US Vice President Spiro Agnew visits New Zealand to prop up the New Zealand government support for the Vietnam War and is met by an anti-war protest in Auckland which turned violent.
  48. 1972 – New Zealand ends its role in the Vietnam War when troops are withdrawn under the new Labour Government and compulsory military training is abolished.
  49. 1973 – Naval frigate is dispatched in protest against French nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean.
  50. 1973 – New Zealand’s population reaches 3 million.
  51. 1973 – Oil price hike caused the worst terms of trade in 30 years.
  52. 1973 – Colour television is introduced.
  53. 1974 – Commonwealth Games is held in Christchurch.
  54. 1975 – Waitangi Tribunal is set up to investigate grievances of Maori people in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840.
  55. 1976 – Metric system of weights and measures is introduced.
  56. 1977 – National Superannuation (Pension) scheme begins.
  57. 1980 – Saturday trading is partially legalised.
  58. 1981 – Anti-apartheid protests during the South African rugby team tour creates civil unrest.
  59. 1983 – Visit by nuclear-powered USA Navy frigate “Texas” sparks protests.
  60. 1984 – Auckland’s population exceeds that of the whole of South Island.
  61. 1984 – Government devalues the New Zealand dollar by 20 percent. The Government begins to deregulate the economy.
  62. 1985 – Greenpeace vessel ‘Rainbow Warrior’ was bombed and sunk by French DGSE (foreign intelligence agency) in Auckland harbour.
  63. 1985 – Government bans visits by ships carrying nuclear weapons.
  64. 1985 – Anti-nuclear policy leads to refusal of a visit by the American warship, the “USS Buchanan”.
  65. 1985 – The New Zealand dollar is floated.
  66. 1986 – Goods and Services Tax introduced.
  67. 1986 – All remaining constitutional links with the United Kingdom are severed with the passing of the New Zealand Constitution Act by both parliaments.
  68. 1987 – Share prices plummet by 59 percent in 4 months.
  69. 1987 – Anti-nuclear legislation is enacted.
  70. 1987 – Maori becomes an official language by law.
  71. 1989 – Sunday trading begins.
  72. 1989 – The final remnants of capital punishment are abolished.
  73. 1990 – The Commonwealth Games are held in Auckland.
  74. 1991 – New Zealand troops join multi-national force in the Gulf War.
  75. 1992 – The Government begins reparations for land confiscated in the Land Wars in the 1800s and confirms Maori fishing rights.
  76. 1994 – New Zealand’s first casino opens in Christchurch.
  77. 1994 – First fast-ferry service begins operation across the Cook Strait.
  78. 1995 – Team New Zealand wins the prestigious America’s Cup (sport of sailing).
  79. 1998 – Waitangi Tribunal orders government to return confiscated land in Turangi township to its Maori owners.
  80. 1999 – Labour Party leader Helen Clark is elected prime minister. Helen Clark later has senior roles at the United Nations.
  81. 1999 – New Zealand troops join a United Nations peacekeeping force in East Timor.
  82. 2000 – Knighthoods (sirs) are abolished.
  83. 2003 – Population of New Zealand exceeds 4 million.
  84. 2003 – Prostitution Reform Act 2003 (an Act that decriminalised prostitution) is passed in parliament.
  85. 2004 – Maori TV begins broadcasting, committed to New Zealand content and Maori language and culture.
  86. 2005 – Helen Clark is returned as prime minister of the 3rd successive Labour Government. The Maori Party takes 4 seats (out of 120 seats).
  87. 2006 – The Government announces a NZ$11.5 billion surplus, the largest in the country’s history and second only to Denmark in the Western World.
  88. 2006 – South Island population reaches 1 million.
  89. 2007 – Police arrest 17 people in anti-terror raids. Prosecutors accuse Maori activists of planning a violent campaign against the country’s white majority.
  90. 2009 – Knighthoods (sirs), abolished by the previous government, are restored.
  91. 2009 – New Zealand’s economy shrinks for the fifth consecutive quarter, making it officially the longest recession in the country’s history.
  92. 2009 – New Zealand sends about 70 elite SAS troops to Afghanistan for the third time at the request of USA.
  93. 2011 – New Zealand is placed in a National State of Emergency as a magnitude 6.3 earthquake devastates Christchurch; 185 lives are lost, and the CBD and numerous historic buildings are destroyed.
  94. 2013 – New Zealand becomes the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalise same-sex marriage.
  95. 2015 – New Zealand joins the fight against ISIS by sending troops to Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers against the Islamic Terror Group.
  96. 2017 – Labour leader Jacinda Ardern becomes the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  97. 2019 – Christchurch mosque shootings. 51 people are killed when a far-right gunman attacks worshippers in two mosques in Christchurch. After that, the Government tightened gun laws.
  98. 2020 (to 2021) – COVID-19 pandemic caused more than 20 deaths in New Zealand.
  99. 2020 – Jacinda Ardern wins landslide victory for Labour in parliamentary elections, in part over her excellent handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  100. 2021 – New Zealand has 5 million people.

© Comasters September 2021.

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