two large islands (called the North Island and South Island) and many much smaller islands. New Zealand is calledAotearoa in M\u0101ori, which translates as the Land of the Long White Cloud.
It is notable for its geographic isolation, being separated from Australia to the northwest by the Tasman Sea, some 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) across. Its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.
The population of New Zealand is mostly of European descent, with M\u0101ori being the largest minority. Non-M\u0101ori Polynesian and Asian peoples are also significant minorities, especially in the cities.
Elizabeth II is the Queen of New Zealand and is represented in the country by a non-political Governor-General; the Queen 'reigns but does not rule', so she has no real political influence. Political power is held by the Prime Minister, who is leader of the Government in the democratically-elected Parliament of New Zealand. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue, which are entirely self-governing, Tokelau, and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica).
New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major land masses. Polynesian settlers arrived in their waka some time between the 13th century and the 15th century to establish the indigenous M\u0101ori culture. Settlement of the Chatham Islands to the east of the New Zealand mainland produced the Moriori people, but it is disputed whether they moved there from New Zealand or elsewhere in Polynesia. Most of New Zealand was divided into tribal territories calledroh e, resources within which were controlled by aniwi ('nation'). M\u0101ori adapted to eating the local marine resources, flora and fauna for food, hunting the giant flightless moa (which soon became extinct), and ate the Polynesian Rat and kumara (sweet potato), which they introduced to the country.
The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were led by Abel Janszoon Tasman, who sailed up the west coasts of the South and North Islands in 1642. He named it Staten Landt, believing it to be part of the land Jacob Le Maire had discovered in 1616 off the coast of Chile. Staten Landt appeared on Tasman's first maps of New Zealand, but this was changed by Dutch cartographers to Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland, some time after Hendrik Brouwer proved the supposedly South American land to be an island in 1643. The Latin Nova Zeelandia became Nieuw Zeeland in Dutch. Lieutenant James Cook subsequently called the archipelago New Zealand, although the M\u0101ori names he recorded for the North and South Islands (as Aehei No Mouwe and Tovy Poenammu respectively) were rejected, and the main three islands became known as North, Middle and South, with the Middle Island being later called the South Island, and the earlier South Island becoming Stewart Island. Cook began extensive surveys of the islands in 1769, leading to European whaling expeditions and eventually significant European colonisation. From as early as the 1780s, M\u0101ori had encounters with European sealers and whalers. Acquisition of muskets by those iwi in close contact with European visitors destabilised the existing balance of power between M\u0101ori tribes and there was a temporary but intense period of bloody inter-tribal warfare, known as the Musket Wars, which ceased only when all iwi were so armed.
Concern about the exploitation of M\u0101ori by Europeans, Church Missionary Society lobbying and French interest in the region led the British to annex New Zealand by Royal Proclamation in January 1840. To legitimise the British annexation, Lieutenant Governor William Hobson had been dispatched in 1839; he hurriedly negotiated the Treaty of Waitangi with northern iwi on his arrival. The Treaty was signed in February, and in recent years it has come to be seen as the founding document of New Zealand. The M\u0101ori translation of the treaty
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