New Zealand History/Polynesian Settlement

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Polynesian Settlement of New Zealand edit

Around 950 AD, it is believed Polynesian settlers used subtropical weather systems, star constellations, water currents, and animal migration to find their way from their native islands, in central Polynesia to New Zealand. As the settlers colonized the country, they developed their distinctive Māori culture.

A replica Polynesian canoe Hawai'iloa in Honolulu harbour

According to Māori, the first Polynesian explorer to reach New Zealand was Kupe, who traveled across the Pacific in a Polynesian-style voyaging canoe. It is thought Kupe reached New Zealand at Hokianga Harbour, in Northland, about 1070 years ago.

Although there has been much debate about when and how Polynesians actually started settling New Zealand, the current understanding is that they migrated from East and central Polynesia, the Southern Cook and Society islands region. They migrated deliberately, at different times, in different canoes, first arriving in New Zealand in the late 10th Century.

For a long time during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it was believed the first inhabitants of New Zealand were the Māori people, who hunted giant birds called moas. The theory then established the idea that the Māori people migrated from Polynesia in a Great Fleet and took New Zealand from the Moriori, establishing an agricultural society. However, new evidence suggests that the Moriori were a group of mainland Māori who migrated from New Zealand to the Chatham Islands, developing their own distinctive, peaceful culture. During the w:Moriori Genocide, most of the Moriori were killed or enslaved, with few remaining today.