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Subsequent governments have generally maintained these policies, although tempering the free market ethos somewhat.New Zealand was originally settled by Polynesians from Eastern Polynesia.Meanwhile, Māori culture underwent a renaissance, and from the 1950s Māori began moving to the cities in large numbers.This led to the development of a Māori protest movement which in turn led to greater recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi in the late 20th century.The most important units of pre-European Māori society were the whānau or extended family, and the hapū or group of whānau.After these came the iwi or tribe, consisting of groups of hapū.

Leadership was based on a system of chieftainship, which was often but not always hereditary, although chiefs (male or female) needed to demonstrate leadership abilities to avoid being superseded by more dynamic individuals.

Related hapū would often trade goods and co-operate on major projects, but conflict between hapū was also relatively common.

Traditional Māori society preserved history orally through narratives, songs, and chants; skilled experts could recite the tribal genealogies (whakapapa) back for hundreds of years.

In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and various Māori chiefs, bringing New Zealand into the British Empire and giving Māori the same rights as British subjects.

There was extensive British settlement throughout the rest of the century and into the early part of the next century.

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