Maori Arrival in Aotearoa New Zealand

Hints and Tips

The Polynesian Triangle spans between Hawaii in the north, Rapanui (Easter Island) in the east and Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the south. Many of the countries within this triangle share similar languages, cultural traditions and beliefs.


It’s estimated that our Māori ancestors arrived to New Zealand shores between 700 – 1200 years ago, but it wasn’t until 1642 that Europeans became aware that New Zealand existed.

In search of a peaceful land, our ancestors used stars, currents, winds and wildlife to navigate their way. After discovering New Zealand, many returned to their homeland to share their discovery and the same navigation methods were used to return once more.

According to tribal korero (stories), Kupe was the first Polynesian to discover the islands of New Zealand. It is also said that his wife, Kuramārōtini, named Aotearoa (New Zealand, which means land of the long white cloud) upon seeing the North Island for the first time.

Did you know?

New Zealand has a shorter human history than any other country.

The tribes that arrived to New Zealand did not identify themselves as Māori until the arrival of Europeans. Marking their distinction, the tribes decided to collectively name themselves as Māori which means “ordinary”.

Maori Arrival in Aotearoa New Zealand

Māori migrated to New Zealand from their Eastern Polynesian homeland between 700 and 1,200 years ago.