Story: When was New Zealand first settled?

Computer model of a voyage

Computer model of a voyage

Geoffrey Irwin, a professor of archaeology at Auckland University, has used computers to determine whether certain journeys were feasible using the sailing technology of the Polynesian double-hulled canoe. His research clearly shows that if people had chosen to sail in a south-south-east direction from New Caledonia, and they held their course for two to three weeks, they could easily have landed in New Zealand. If people did arrive as early as 2,000 years ago, it is possible that they came from somewhere in eastern Melanesia, such as New Caledonia. While this is an outside possibility, the settlement of New Zealand in 1250–1300 AD was definitely from East Polynesia.

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Cambridge University Press
Reference: Geoff Irwin, The prehistoric exploration and colonization of the Pacific. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 169.

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Courtesy of Geoff Irwin

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin and Carl Walrond, 'When was New Zealand first settled? - Rat DNA', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 May 2022)

Story by Geoff Irwin and Carl Walrond, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 May 2016