History of Auckland


The first people of New Zealand were the indigenous Maori. They named the North island "Aotearoa", commonly translated as The Land of the Long White Cloud, which has since become the word for the entire island in the Maori language. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman arrived in 1642 and named it Staten Landt.

However, "settling" the island for the white immigrants did not come easily as some of the original Dutch crew was killed by the Maori and Europeans were unsure about returning. The British explorer James Cook tried again in 1768. This time, the European immigration was successful and opened the floodgates of European trade of metal tools and weapons for Maori timber, food, artefacts and water. Christian missionaries followed and furthered changed the ways of the indigenous people. New Zealand was one of the last major landmasses to be settled.

Auckland's isthmus was settled around 1350 for its rich and fertile land. The Maori had used this area as productive farm land for many years, but the introduction of guns began a brutal inter-tribal war. The openness of future Auckland's terrain made it difficult to protect the tribe and it was largely abandoned for more sheltered coastal areas. On January 27th, 1832 Joseph Brooks officially bought the land and Europeans began to make their home in Auckland. As more and more white settlers came to New Zealand, land disputes became common and the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s and 1870s resulted in severe land loss for the Maori.

Originally, part of the colony of New South Wales was under British rules. It became a separate colony in 1840. The area developed and grew with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and Auckland was distinguished as the new capital. The new Governor of New Zealand, William Hobson, named the city after George Eden, Earl of Auckland. Representation came in 1852 with the passing of a new Constitution Act by the United Kingdom. The 1st Parliament meeting occurred in 1854.

In 1863 the Premier, Alfred Domett, became concerned that division on the island would lead to the South Island creating a separate colony. Wellington was chosen as the new capitol in 1865 for its harbor and central location to counteract this movement. It was also at this time that New Zealand became fully independent in 1907. In 1947 the Statute of Westminster was ratified.

The country experienced great growth following World War II, but suffered along with the world market in the 1930s. Social unrest was also a problem as the Maori had begun to immigrate to the city and criticize the European supremacy. Many Maori felt that earlier treaties had not been adhered to and in 1975 the Waitangi Tribunal was established to investigate alleged breaches.

Today, the country has somewhat reconciled with its past and features a confident and laid back people. The area's mild climate, bountiful employment and many leisure activities have distinguished it as a pleasant place to be. It currently ranks as the 4th best place to live in terms of quality of life for 215 major cities of the world.

Update 6/12/2009

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