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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 Bill English.
In 1893 New Zealand was the first nation in the world to grant all women the right to vote In 1898 Seddon's government passed the Old-age Pensions Act of 1898, the first general pensions scheme in the British Empire.
Over the centuries that followed, these settlers developed a distinct culture now known as Māori.
The population was divided into iwi (tribes) and hapū (subtribes) who would sometimes cooperate, sometimes compete and sometimes fight against each other.
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.
In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes.
The Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing states in free association with New Zealand); and the Ross Dependency, which is New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica.New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometres (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga.Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans.At some point, a group of Māori migrated to the Chatham Islands (which they named Rēkohu) where they developed their distinct Moriori culture.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.Reflecting this, New Zealand's culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration.