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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?ori culture. New Zealand's M?ori name, Aotearoa, is usually translated as "Land of the long white cloud", reputedly referring to the cloud the explorers saw on the horizon as they approached. Settlement of the Chatham Islands to the east of the 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 called rohe, resources within which were controlled by an iwi ('nation' or 'tribe'). M?ori 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.
New Zealand was initially administered as a part of the colony of New South Wales, and it became a separate colony in 1841. The first capital was Okiato or old Russell in the Bay of Islands but it soon moved to Auckland. European settlement progressed more rapidly than anyone anticipated, and settlers soon outnumbered M?ori. Self-government was granted to the settler population in 1852. There were political concerns following the discovery of gold in Central Otago in 1861 that the South Island would form a separate colony, so in 1865 the capital was moved to the more central city of Wellington. New Zealand was involved in a Constitutional Convention in March 1891 in Sydney, New South Wales, along with the Australian colonies. This was to consider a potential constitution for the proposed federation between all the Australasian colonies. New Zealand lost interest in joining Australia in a federation following this convention.
In 1893 New Zealand became the first nation to grant women the right to vote on the same basis as men; however women were not eligible to stand for parliament until 1919.
New Zealand became an independent dominion on 26 September 1907, by Royal Proclamation. Full independence was granted by the United Kingdom Parliament with the Statute of Westminster in 1931; it was taken up upon the Statute's adoption by the New Zealand Parliament in 1947. Since then New Zealand has been a sovereign constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations.
In 1951, Australia, New Zealand and the United States became allies with the signing of the ANZUS Treaty. In 1985, New Zealand declared itself a nuclear-free zone. As a result, US warships could no longer enter New Zealand ports without declaring themselves to be free of nuclear weapons or power. As such a declaration would be against US Government policy, effectively the ships were banned from New Zealand. The United States suspended its obligations to New Zealand under the ANZUS Treaty.