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New Zealand
Populated by the Polynesian Maori people since at least 1000 AD, the first European contact was in 1642 when the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sighted the land.



Captain James Cook explored the islands in 1769 but unlike Australia the land was never used as a penal colony and it was only after it was named a British colony in 1840 that large-scale emigration from Europe began to take place. This increased dramatically after the discovery of gold in 1861, an influx of people which lead to conflict between the settlers and the native population.

Captain James Cook
Captain James Cook
The Captain Cook Society

Nobel Prize Winners


Chemistry
The pioneer nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford was born in Brightwater in 1871. In 1908 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He died in 1937 in Cambridge in England and his ashes were interred at Westminster Abbey.

Ernest Rutherford



Physiology or Medicine
The molecular biologist Maurice Wilkins was born in Pongoroa in 1916 and his family emigrated to England when he was still a child. In 1962 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with the English scientist Francis H.C. Crick and the American James D. Watson for their ground breaking research into DNA which lead to the discovery of its double helix structure. He and Crick both died in 2004.

Maurice Wilkins
Francis H.C. Crick




World Heritage Sites

In 1990 the Tongariro National Park was designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The area has special cultural and religious relevance for the native Maori people.



In 1990 the Te Wahipouramu Area in south-west New Zealand was designated a World Heritage Site. The area encompasses three National Parks; Westland Tai Poutini, the adjacent park of Aoraki Mount Cook and Fiordland which were all previously entered on the UNESCO list in 1986.



Made up of five island groups south-east of New Zealand, the Sub-Antarctic Islands were designated a World Heritage Site in 1988.



Writers and Poets
The short story writer Katherine Mansfield was born as Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp in Wellington in 1888. Having been educated in London she emigrated to England at the age of nineteen to follow a career as a writer.

Katherine Mansfield



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