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The country remained an enthusiastic member of the British Empire, and 110,000 men fought in World War I (see New Zealand Expeditionary Force).
After the war New Zealand signed the Treaty of Versailles (1919), joined the League of Nations, and pursued an independent foreign policy, while its defence was still controlled by Britain.
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 "equal rights" with British citizens.
There was extensive British settlement throughout the rest of the century.
In 1840, representatives of Britain and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands.
New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.
Sometime between 12 CE, Polynesians settled in the islands that later were named New Zealand and developed a distinctive Māori culture.
War and the imposition of a European economic and legal system led to most of New Zealand's land passing from Māori to Pākehā (European) ownership, and most Māori subsequently became impoverished.
From the 1890s the New Zealand parliament enacted a number of progressive initiatives, including women's suffrage and old age pensions.