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No. 40 (September 1962)
– 60 –

Milestones in New Zealand History No. 1 of series

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Artist's impression after an oil painting by Kennett Watkins in Auckland Art Gallery


The Maoris may not have been the first inhabitants of New Zealand. But, as far as the Maoris are concerned, their legends, passed by word of mouth down the centuries, tell of a Society Islands explorer named Kupe, who, about 925 A.D., followed the south-west flight of the long-tailed cuckoo and visited Te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui)—the North Island —and Te Wahi Paunamu (the place of greestone), as the South Island became known.

Many minor migrations sailed down the long sea roads to New Zealand during the next 200 years, so that, when the famous Toi arrived about 1150, he found the Bay of Plenty and the Hauraki Gulf already inhabited. It was probably one of the early migrations that settled the Chatham Islands, whose people became known as Morioris.

Finally, about 1350, came the renowned Maori “fleet”, as it is commonly called. Originating from “Hawaiki”, the legendary homeland somewhere in Polynesia, the great voyaging canoes brought the intrepid travellers from whom the Maori people of today proudly trace their origin.