country made up of two large & several small islands in the S Pacific, southeast of Australia: discovered in 1642, became a British colony (1841), & achieved complete independence in 1931; member of the Commonwealth: 103,738 sq mi (268,680 sq km); cap. Wellington
Origin of New ZealandDutch Nieuw Zeeland, after Zeeland
An island country in the southern Pacific Ocean southeast of Australia. Maori groups probably migrated to New Zealand from Polynesia by the late 1200s. Visited by Abel Tasman in 1642, the islands were more thoroughly explored by Capt. James Cook in three voyages between 1769 and 1777. The British established their first permanent settlement in 1840 and claimed the region as a crown colony. New Zealand received dominion status in 1907 and became fully independent in 1931. Wellington is the capital and Auckland the largest city.
- New Zea′land·er