Haere Mai, Ao Tea Roa. Translated from Maori (pronounced mau-ree ), this reads "hello from the land of the long white cloud." Ao Tea Roa is the name given to New Zealand by the Maoris, a Polynesian people native to the country. The Maoris form about 8 percent of New Zealand's population. New Zealand was settled by the Maoris long before the first European discovered it in 1642. The Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, named the country after a province in the Netherlands. Abel Tasman never landed, however, and in 1769 Captain James Cook was the first European to set foot on New Zealand soil. New Zealand, now a member of the British Commonwealth, became a British colony in 1840 after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British and the Maoris. New Zealand consists of two main islands and a third smaller one, lying about 1,200 miles southeast of Australia. It is an agricultural nation exporting meat, wool and dairy products. It is ideally suited to sheep farming. Every spring (from September to November in the Southern Hemisphere) the hillsides are dotted with newborn lambs.
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