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New Zealand in History
Timeline of events in New Zealand history
circa 1300 AD The start of the continuous Polynesian settlement. These people, and subsequent arrivals, were the ancestors of present-day Māori.
1642 Abel Janszoon Tasman, Dutch explorer, discovers part of the western littoral of New Zealand and names his discovery "Staten Landt".
1644 - 1647 Part of New Zealand's coastline appears beside the name "Zeelandia Nova" on printed world and Pacific charts and globes.
1769 James Cook, British explorer, makes his first visit to New Zealand. He claims parts of the country in the name of King George III.
1769 French explorer, Jean-François-Marie de Surville casts anchor at Spirit's Bay, on 17th December.
1772 French explorer Marc-Joseph-Marion du Fresne casts anchor at Spirit's Bay.

Deep sea whaling, sealing, flax and timber trades commence.

The Māori suffer the first serious introduced epidemic.

1791 First known visit of a whaling ship to Doubtless Bay : the "William and Ann".
1806 First European women arrive in New Zealand.
1814 Samuel Marsden, British Missionary, makes his first visit to New Zealand. The Anglican mission is established at the Bay of Islands.
1815 Thomas Holloway King becomes the first pakeha (European) child born in New Zealand.
1819 Chiefs Te Rauparaha, Patuone, Nene, Moetara and Tuwhare lead raids on the Taranaki and Te Whanganui-a-tara (Port Nicholson) regions.
1820 Ngapuhi chief Hongi Hika visits England, meets with King George IV, and is able to obtain muskets on the return trip.
1821 Hongi Hika and Te Morenga commence Musket Wars against southern tribes.
1822 Te Rauparaha leads the migration of the Ngati Toa south, to the Cook Strait region.
1823 Wesleyan Missionary Society established.

French explorer Isidore Duperrey visits the Bay of Islands. Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville is second-in-command of the expedition.


Dumont d'Urville leads his own expedition and charts large sections of New Zealand's coastline in detail for the first time.

Te Rauparaha commences his invasion of the South Island, from Kapiti Coast.

1831 Whaling stations established at Tory Channel and Preservation Inlet.
1833 James Busby arrives at the Bay of Islands, in his capacity as Official British Resident.
1834 Around 25 northern Māori chiefs adopt the United Tribes flag, on Busby's initiative.
1835 Declaration of Independence by the United Tribes of New Zealand, signed by 34 northern Chiefs.

The New Zealand Association is formed in London. It becomes the The New Zealand Company in 1839.

Son of French escapees from the French Revolution, Baron Charles Philippe Hippolyte de Thierry returns to New Zealand with a group of French colonists, after having bought land from Hokianga chiefs.

1838 Bishop John Baptiste Francis Pompallier, from France, founds the first Marist mission at Hokianga.

William Hobson is instructed to establish British rule in New Zealand, which initially becomes a dependency of New South Wales.

Colonel William Wakefield arrives on board the "Tory" with instructions from his brother Edward to buy as much land as possible for future colonists.


The first New Zealand Company settlers arrive at Port Nicholson.

Dumont d'Urville visits New Zealand for the third and last time and charts additional large sections of the coastline, previously uncharted, in detail.

The Treaty of Waitangi is signed at the Bay of Islands, on 6th February. (external government link here : Treaty of Waitangi )

French settlers arrive at Akaroa just after the signing of the Treaty.

William Hobson becomes the first Governor.


European settlers are established at New Plymouth and Wanganui.

Auckland becomes the capital from the Bay of Islands.

1842 Settlers arrive at Nelson.

The "Wairau Affair". Violent confrontation between Europeans and the Māori.

Robert Fitzroy becomes Governor.


Hone Heke and Te Kawiti commence the northern wars.

The New Zealand Company is in financial difficulty, and suspends its colonisation operations.

George Grey becomes Governor.

1846 The wars in the north end with the taking of Ruapekapeka.
1848 The Scottish Otago Association founds a settlement.
1850 The Canterbury settlement is founded.
1853 Tamihana Te Rauparaha and Matane Te Whiwhi propose the idea of a Māori King.
1858 Te Wherwhero installed as first Māori King, with the name of Potatau I.
1859 Gold discovered in Buller.
1860 War in Taranaki, resulting from the Waitara dispute.
1861 Gold discovered at Gabriel's Gully - the Otago gold rushes commence.
1862 First telegraph line between Christchurch and Lyttelton opens.

War recommences in Taranaki.The New Zealand Settlements Act is passed to push through land confiscation.

First steam railway in New Zealand commences.

1864 The Waikato war ends. Land in Waikato, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay is confiscated.

Auckland streets lit by gas for the first time.

Māori resistance continues.

1868 Māori resistance continues under the leadership of Te Kooti Arikirangi and Titokowaru.

The last of the British Imperial Forces leave New Zealand.

Vogel's public works and immigration policy commences. Over 1.000 miles of railway are constructed.


Te Kooti retreats into the King Country. Māori armed resistance ceases.

Telegraph communication links Auckland, Wellington and the southern provinces.

1881 Parihaka community forcibly broken up by troops. Te Whiti, Tohu Kakahi and their followers are arrested and imprisoned.
1883 Te Kooti officially pardoned.
1884 King Tawhiao visits England with a petition for the Queen, appealing to the Treaty. He is refused access.

The eruption of Mount Tarawera.

Oil discovered in Taranaki.

1887 Reefton becomes the first town to have electricity.
1888 Birth of writer Katherine Mansfield.
1893 Women granted the right to vote.
1897 Apirana Ngata and other Young Māori intellectuals form the Te Aute College Students Association.
1898 Old age pensions act.


Source : The New Zealand Official Year Book.

Grateful thanks to researcher Brian Hooker for checking the exactitude of the facts on this page.
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Related Links
New Zealand timeline - Land ownership and settlement before 1840 - 1995 (from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry)
Firsts in New Zealand history
Prime Minister timeline
New Zealand Electoral timeline
Commonwealth Games - New Zealand gold medallists timeline
Taranaki War timeline
New Zealand telecommunications timeline
Finding New Zealand - Excellent New Zealand history site researched by Brian Hooker


 Please be aware that this website is a personal homepage. It would therefore be wise to cross check information which I have presented here. A list of many official New Zealand history sites may be found within my Links section.