Migration to New Zealand began with Polynesian settlement in New Zealand, then uninhabited, about 1250 to 1280. European migration provided a major influx following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Subsequent immigration has been chiefly from the British Isles, but also from continental Europe, the Pacific, the Americas and Asia
In 2004–2005 Immigration New Zealand set a target of 45,000, representing 1.5% of the total population. However, the net effect was a population decline, since more left than arrived. 48,815 arrived, and overall, the population was 10,000 or 0.25% less than the previous year. Overall, though, New Zealand has one of the highest populations of foreign-born citizens. In 2005, almost 20% of New Zealanders were born overseas, one of the highest percentages of any country in the world. The Department of Labour’s sixth annual Migration Trends report shows a 21 per cent rise in work permits issued in the 2005/06-year compared with the previous year. Nearly 100,000 people were issued work permits to work in sectors ranging from IT to horticulture in the 2005/06-year. This compares with around 35,000 work permits issued in 1999–2000. Around 52,000 people were approved for permanent New Zealand residence in 2005/06. Over 60 per cent were approved under the skilled or business categories.
Polynesians in the South Pacific were the first to discover the landmass of New Zealand. Eastern Polynesian explorers had settled in New Zealand by approximately the thirteenth century CE with most evidence pointing to an arrival date of about 1280. Their arrival gave rise to the Māori culture and the Māori language, both unique to New Zealand, although very closely related to analogues in other parts of Eastern Polynesia. Evidence from Wairau Bar and the Chatham Islands shows that the Polynesian colonists maintained many parts of their east Polynesian culture such as burial customs for at least 50 years. Especially strong resemblances link Māori to the languages and cultures of the Cook and Society Islands, which are regarded as the most likely places of origin. Morori settled the Chatham Islands during the 15th century from mainland New Zealand.
Due to New Zealand’s geographic isolation, several centuries passed before the next phase of settlement, the arrival of Europeans (beginning with Abel Tasman’s visit in 1642). Only then did the original inhabitants need to distinguish themselves from the new arrivals, using the adjective “Māori” which means “ordinary” or “indigenous” which later became a noun although the term New Zealand native was common until about 1890. Māori thought of their tribe (iwi) as a nation