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Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, who is currently Jacinda Ardern.
In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire and in 1907 it became a Dominion.
Today, the majority of New Zealand's population of 4.7 million is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders.
The Māori people are most likely descended from people who emigrated from Taiwan to Melanesia and then travelled east through to the Society Islands.
After a pause of 70 to 265 years, a new wave of exploration led to the discovery and settlement of New Zealand.
Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships.
They traded European food, metal tools, weapons and other goods for timber, Māori food, artefacts and water.In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand.In 1840, representatives of Britain and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands.The Moriori population was all but wiped out between 18, largely because of Taranaki Māori invasion and enslavement in the 1830s, although European diseases also contributed.In 1862 only 101 survived, and the last known full-blooded Moriori died in 1933.The House of Representatives is democratically elected and a government is formed from the party or coalition with the majority of seats.