New Zealand History/Polynesian Settlement

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Polynesian Settlement of New Zealand rules[edit]

Around 1300 AD, it is believed Polynesian settlers used subtropical weather systems to find their way from their native islands, in Polynesia to New Zealand. As the settlers colonised the country, they developed their distinctive Maori culture.

A replica Polynesian canoe Hawai'iloa in Honolulu harbour

According to Maori, the first Polynesian explorer to reach New Zealand was Kupe, who travelled across the Pacific in a Polynesian-style voyaging canoe. It is thought Kupe reached New Zealand at Hokianga Harbour, in Northland, about 1000 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 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 13th Century.

For a long time during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it was believed the first inhabitants of New Zealand were the Maori people, who hunted giant birds called moas. The theory then established the idea that the Maori people migrated from Polynesia in a Great Fleet and took New Zealand from the Maori's, establishing an agricultural society. However, new evidence suggests that the Morioris were a group of mainland Maori who migrated from New Zealand to the Chatham Islands, developing their own distinctive, peaceful culture.


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