Sunday, August 31, 2008

The ant and the elephant are now good mates...

The ant and the elephant are now good mates...

When did New Zealand gain independence from Britain... I was recently asked when did New Zealand gain full independemce from Britain?

Lets read a bit of background material and history about New Zealand, the small dual island nation in the South Pacific,about 1200 miles or 2,000 km from Australia. I say dual island because the two main islands are still known as the South Island and the North Island. The south is the larger of the two, but the North has about two thirds of the population, with the capital city being Wellington, at the bottom of the North Island.

The population today has a majority of caucasians with Maori and Pacific Islanders making up the two largest population minorities. The Maori are not indigenous to New Zealand despite claims to the contary, perpetuated no doubt because of longstanding land claims.

Until the late 13th century NZ was uninhabited, apart from the odd island-hopping visitors from other Pacific Islands in previus times. There have been recorded visits to Aotearoa by the legendary Kupe and his waka(ocean-going canoes)in the late 9th century. That is another historical story within modern day New Zealand history.

In the 15th century Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited NZ during his voyages here and around Australia, naming New Zealand after the town of Zeeland in Holland.

In the late 18th century British explorer Captain James Cook made about three voyages of discovery and mapped NZ.

Whalers and sealers set up their posts around NZ in the early 19th century. Missionaries arrived in the country to save the natives from their pagan ways, and also to get their hands on land.Settlers arrived to purchase land too, with the organised colonising of NZ.

In 1835 a number of Maori tribes signed a so-called Declaration of Independence with the Crown. But this was ignored and not recognised by those seeking to colonise NZ and get their hands on as much land as possible. Then the French began to make their presence felt too around present day Banks Peninsula, which is now part of modern Christchurch City, the largest city in the South Island.

As a consequence to the above the British Governor arranged a treaty to be signed by a majority of maori tribes throughout NZ - known as the 'Treaty of Waitangi', this was done in 1840 and the British flag was raised on NZ to keep the French out of NZ.

During the next few decades there were wars with some Maori tribes, much land was confiscated by the British Crown, and the country was colonised. The causasian population increased until they were the majority, and the Maori population decreased drastically through disease and other reasons.

In 1901 New Zealand had been invited to become part of the amalgamation of colonies to form the Commonwealth Of Australasia, but NZ declined mainly through transport distance and lack of easy means of communication with Australia; it took days to sail to Australia. The Commonwealth Of Australia was formed instead, and New Zealand went on its own.

In 1907 the Dominion of New Zealand was formed - an independent self-governing overseas territory of Great Britain as it was known then.

Full independence was not given to NZ until 1931, but it did not ratify this until 1947, when the WW2 was over and the mood of "where Britain goes, NZ goes" was long gone.

So 107 years after the signing, the Treaty of Waitangi is still fully recognised as a founding document of this country, and probably one of the few treaties in the world to survive, NZ become its own man, so to speak. Less than 20 years later NZ would in point of fact be discarded by Britain's entry to the European commonmarket, which is now the European political Union.

NZ lost its guaranteed markets to Britain and had to find its own way in the world. NZ would also establish its own foreign policy and became alienated from the US because of its anti-nuclear policies and stance, something still in force today. The US considered NZ a friend, but no longer an ally and denied NZ military training and security information.However there are signs of the two countries becoming locked in embrace again. The US and NZ have actually been friends and allies for many, many years.

The ant and the elephant are good mates and cobbers once again!

I hope you enjoyed this little look at NZ history today.

Read here

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