On this day 13 Dec in 1642, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman sighted South Island, New Zealand, and later, mistaking the strait north of the island for a bay, believed he had found the west coast of a hypothetical southern continent.
New Zealand was the largest country in Polynesia when it was annexed by the British in 1840. Thereafter it was, successively, a crown colony, a self-governing colony (1856), and a dominion (1907).
By the 1920s it controlled almost all of its internal and external policies, although it did not become fully independent until 1947, when it adopted the Statute of Westminster. It is a member of the Commonwealth of former British dependencies.