ew Zealand is a country of immigrants. It was one of the last places on the globe to be settled by humans, with the Moahunters arriving in about the ninth century, and Maori arriving around the mid-14th century. By the mid-1600s the Europeans had also found New Zealand, although it was another two centuries before they settled in any great numbers. Since then the country has been influenced by people of many cultures, who have gradually assimilated into a nation of nearly four million people. While some have retained individual characteristics and culture from their or their ancestors' homeland, a distinctly New Zealand culture has also slowly developed.
New Zealanders whose ancestors were of European descent, commonly referred to as pakehas, make up around 72 percent of the population. The earlier inhabitants, the Maori, now make up around 15 percent of the population, but marriage between ethnic groups is common so most people of Maori descent are actually a mix of Maori and pakeha. A further six percent of the population is originally from the Pacific Islands, and five percent is Asian. Together, New Zealanders call themselves 'Kiwis', after their national icon, the kiwi bird.
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