Carbon dating of the remains of the Pacific rat, Kiore exulans, has revealed that there were visitors
to Aotearoa from the Pacific region circa 2000 years ago. They do not settle, but introduce the rat.
The explorers Kupe, Toi and Whatonga visit Aotearoa and return to their homes in central
Polynesia. Polynesian settlers come to Aotearoa from the Pacific Islands of the northeast. They
bring a rich agricultural tradition, and adapt their systems of gardening to the soils, climate and
topography of the area in which they are. Much of Aotearoa is covered in forests. Moa are found in
many areas of the country. Other birds and seals are very common.
The settlers explore most of Aotearoa. They establish small coastal communities where gardening,
fishing and hunting all provide important sources of food.
Moa and other bones supply materials for making fish hooks and ornaments. Sources of obsidian,
greenstone and argillite are discovered, and are carried long distances for use as tools. Fine personal
ornaments indicate wealth.
Pits are used for winter storage of crops by the end of the period.
There is a growth in the population, particularly in the north. Fortified villages, or pa, are
New woodcarving styles are introduced such as the double spiral and manaia motif. Greenstone is
used for both ornaments and tools.
Strict rules of tapu develop.
Fires destroy large areas of forest in the South Island. Numbers of moa and other birds decline.
Gardens for kumara, taro and gourds are developed, mostly in the North Island.
Kati Mamoe come to Te Wai Pounamu and through inter-marriage and conquest eventually merge
Lines of communication spread throughout the country as a result of trading. Rock drawings are
made in caves in North Otago and South Canterbury. Regional styles of ornaments, tools and
fishing gear develop.
The moa becomes extinct.
The majority of people now live in the northern half of the North Island.
Ngai Tahu establish themselves in Te Wai Pounamu.
New types of pa defence are built, such as double ditches.
Abel Tasman sights Aotearoa.
Climate changes occur, preventing kumara cultivation in colder areas. Greater use is made of fern
roots as a food resource. Carving styles become more intricate.
Capt. James Cook makes his first visit – crew member Tupaia from Tahiti enables communication and Cook reports “Maori” live in this country.
French expedition under Capt. Marion du Fresne arrives. Du Fresne and 26 of his crew are killed, following which the French retaliate by killing 250 northern Maori.
Cook’s second visit. Pigs are introduced.
Cook’s third visit.
European sealers set up temporary camps on the coastline. Maori raise pigs for food and also for
trade with Europeans for the goods they have brought with them.
First severe epidemic amongst Maori. Probably influenza, it wipes out an estimated 2/3 of the southern North Island population.
First sealing gang is left on the New Zealand coastline at Dusky Sound, Fiordland.
Tuki & Huru, nephews of the rangatira Te Pahi, are kidnapped and taken to Norfolk Island to teach flax-weaving to Governor King.
Estimated population: Maori 100 000 – 200 000; Pakeha 50.
Over 66 million acres of land in Maori control.
New diseases introduced by the European settlers include measles, dysentery, sexually-transmitted
diseases, tuberculosis, influenza and whooping cough.
Te Pahi visits Governor King in Sydney.
John Savage en route from Sydney to England takes Te Mahanga (Moehanga in the English
literature), a Ngati Wai man, to England then returns with him on the same ship – the Ferret. While
Maori had travelled as far as Tahiti and Australia in the late 18th century, Te Mahanga was the first
to make it to the other side of the globe, in April 1806. While in England he met King George III
and Queen Charlotte.
First Pakeha women arrive in Aotearoa.
Stimulated by the rangatira Te Pahi, northern leaders begin meeting from about 1808 in formal
Assembly to agree on law and policy concerning the newcomers. This Assembly was called Te
Wakaminenga o Nga Hapu o Nu Tireni (the General Assembly of the Tribal Nations of NZ). In the
years leading up to the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty, the meetings of Te
Wakaminenga are attended and supported by many key leaders from around the country, and
gatherings continue well after the Treaty is signed. Te Wakaminenga, known to the British as the
Confederation of Chiefs, is the author of the Declaration of Independence and is prominently
named in the Treaty. Members of Te Wakaminenga, in concert with the (Anglican) Church
Missionary Society (CMS) missionary Williams, were responsible for the final iteration of the
Treaty, transforming it from Hobson’s first draft into Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
1810 Kai Tahu are trading potatoes with Pakeha in return for iron and steel.
1814 Northern chief Ruatara invites Rev Samuel Marsden from the CMS in Sydney. Marsden arrives at
the Bay of Islands, bringing horses, cattle, sheep and poultry with him. Potatoes and other
vegetables (introduced by Cook) are now spread throughout Aotearoa, grown mainly by Maori,
although small scale farms have been established by missionaries and whalers.
Sydney merchants are now trading with Maori for flax, timber and other produce. Maori are
building and buying European ships for the purpose of international trade.
First land negotiation with Ngapuhi. Ngati Torehina’s tuku whenua (grant of land), where 12 axes
are “paid” by Marsden, is intended as a bond that holds both parties together – rather like a lease
and nothing like a sale. However this permission for about 12 acres to be used, with all the
privileges and responsibilities that this relationship entailed, is later treated by the missionaries and
the Government as a sale, leading to permanent alienation of about 200 acres of Ngati Torehina
land. More than cultural difference is involved here – foreigners had been treated with a great deal
of consideration. Hapu were in their own country and could expect foreigners to comply with their
law and custom.
First Mission School established. More follow in the 1820’s with the Mission Schools’ peak period
being the 1830/1840’s. Missionaries seek to convert Maori people to Christianity, and along with
this, to initiate them `in the customs and manners of civilised life’ (Samuel Marsden).
Under the auspices of Te Wakaminenga their general secretary, Waikato, and the renowned
Ngapuhi leader Hongi Hika travel to Britain where they obtain an audience with King George IV,
and also a small arsenal of muskets.
Following their return, and initiated by Ngapuhi, ten years of musket wars break out. The
casualties of constant raiding eventually become unbearable, causing many tribes to look for new,
safer territories. The new type of warfare makes it difficult for tribes to unite. Weaker tribes suffer
Te Rauparaha, the Ngati Toa leader, and allies from the Waikato and Taranaki regions, migrate south.
Wesleyan missionaries arrive.
In a move of dubious legality the jurisdiction of the New South Wales ‘Courts of Justice’ is extended to cover British subjects in Aotearoa.
First Maori Christian baptism is recorded. Missionaries are translating the Bible into Maori.
Traders from Australia are living in Maori communities, which are exporting timber, flax and food
throughout the Pacific rim, including to North and South America.
First (largely unsuccessful) British attempt at colonisation occurs, initiated by the formation of the
New Zealand Company in England. Its principals Edward Gibbon Wakefield and his brother
William are both serving four year prison sentences in England, William for civil debt and Edward
for abduction and demanding ransoms, in regard to a 15 year old heiress.
Te Rauparaha first attacks Kaikoura.
Te Rauparaha visits Kaiapoi and then attacks. Those at the pa defend and this results in the killing of leading Ngati Toa chiefs except for Te Ruaparaha.
The intensity of gardening is recorded by Europeans as is the neatness and regularity of the plots
and the great variety of crops including kumara, taro and introduced vegetables like Indian corn,
melon, pumpkin, and turnip.
Estimated 350 Pakeha living in New Zealand.
Trade statistics show 28 ships averaging 110 tons make 56 voyages between Sydney and New
Zealand, carrying Maori-grown potatoes and milled grain.
Whalers are established at 22 onshore bases, mainly in the South Island. ‘Intermarriage’ is
Until the 1830s the British policy towards New Zealand is one of reluctance to intervene formally.
Britain is busy with problems in some of its colonies, and isn’t really interested in another as far
away as this. Pakeha lawlessness is seen in incidents around the country, including murders,
kidnappings, enslavements and other criminal acts. Reports on these incidents from rangatira and
missionaries are a cause of concern for the British authorities.
Ngai Tahu supplies whaling vessels, looks after whalers and traders in need, and shares their
For the British, matters are brought to a head by the actions of an Englishman, Captain Stewart. In
return for one cargo of flax he secretly conveys Te Rauparaha and war party from Kapiti to Akaroa.
The sacking of that village and capture of ariki Te Maiharanui and family horrify the British in
Sydney. The failure to bring Stewart to justice in Sydney make the British realise that something
has to be done about the lawless state of Europeans in New Zealand.
13 of the Northern rangatira (leaders) of Te Wakaminenga send a letter to King William IV
requesting that the King become a “friend and guardian of these islands”. The letter expresses
concern about a possible takeover by the French and suggests that unless the King acts to control
the misconduct of British citizens who are living in and visiting New Zealand, the rangatira would
be forced to enforce their own laws.
Te Rauparaha lays seige to Kaiapoi and the Ngai Tahu defences hold for 3 months till fire destroys
the pallisades. Ngati Toa goes on to attack Onawe, but is then forced to withdraw at Arowhenua.
Ngai Tahu attacks Ngati Toa near Lake Grassmere. Peace is established between Ngai Tahu and
Ngati Toa at the end of the 1830s.
As a direct result of 1) the Kai Tahu incident with Captain Stewart, 2) the letter from the northern
rangatira, 3) the need to protect British trade interests, and 4) British government concern at the NZ
Company’s activities and the involvement of convicted felons Edward and William Wakefield, as
well as 5) the growing lawlessness amongst British subjects resident in NZ, the British government
appoints James Busby to act as British Resident in New Zealand. James and his sister Agnes Busby
arrive in May 1833 with a reply to the rangatira from King William, and set up the Residence at
Waitangi. Settlers are anxious to have a British style justice system. In the far north, some
conversions of Ngapuhi to Christianity are occurring. Slaves, prisoners of war captured during the
musket wars, are released, and they carry both literacy and European ideas back to their iwi.
Throughout the 1830’s a rapid spread of literacy is occurring amongst Maori. Those who have
learnt to read or write in Maori at these Mission schools are passing their knowledge on to others
and establishing their own schools.
A flag of independence is adopted by the northern chiefs of Te Wakaminenga, following the
seizure of the ‘Sir- George Murray’ and the impounding of her cargo in Sydney, on the basis that she
is not a registered vessel. Maori ships would now be registered and have official access to
Australian and other international ports. Importantly, King William IV formally recognises the flag,
thus granting Maori ships the protection of the British Navy when in international waters.
Te Wakaminenga also begins conferring regularly with Busby about the development of their
international relationships and trade.
An estimated 4000 Maori, transported by whalers, sweep through the southern South Island.
The DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE is signed at Waitangi by Te Wakaminenga. The
document declares New Zealand an independent state, affirms the exclusive sovereignty of hapu,
invites other Maori leaders to join Te Wakaminenga to maintain peace, justice and trade, asks the
King of England to protect the country’s independence internationally, and promises that Maori
will protect British people in the country.
151 whaling vessels visit the Bay of Islands, the numbers being even higher in the following six
months. In another account 861 whalers come to New Zealand between 1771 and 1844, on 2153
voyages. Soon, the greater interest in whaling shifts to the South Island and the East Coast of the
North Island, although the Bay of Islands remains important.
Britain & France & America recognize the sovereign independence of NZ.
Roman Catholic mission in Hokianga.
American consul James Clendon is appointed
Recurring measles epidemics amongst southern Maori.
Over 66 million acres of land is in Maori control (reduced to 3 million acres by 1988). The Paheka population is estimated at 2000 individuals (1200 in the North Island).
Over 1000 Maori have travelled overseas and returned with stories.
The first major migrations from England, financed by the New Zealand Company, arrive at Port
Nicholson, Wanganui and Akaroa.
Captain William Hobson arrives on 30 January. Busby helps Hobson draft the TREATY OF
WAITANGI based on instructions from England. Missionary Henry Williams and his son, in
concert with members of Te Wakaminenga in Waitangi, produce a text in Maori, TE TIRITI O
WAITANGI, that differs significantly from Hobson’s draft. Beginning on February the 6th at
Waitangi, over the next few months the Maori text is signed by 540 Maori and Hobson. Te Tiriti is
a re-declaration of independence, guaranteeing Maori sovereignty and at the same time allowing a
British Governor to exercise a limited authority over British settlers in the areas allocated for their
• Project Waitangi Napier
• New Perspectives on Race (Inc)
• The Treaty of Waitangi and the Ngai Tahu claim, H Evison
• Race Relations Office
• Waitangi Consultancy Group
• Waitangi Tribunal Muriwhenua Report
• Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Bloomfield
• The Treaty of Waitangi, C Orange
• Ngapuhi Speaks, Independent Panel report ISBN 978-0-473-22981-8
• Ngai Tuahuriri: Tuahiwi and Takiwa, Ngai Tuahuriri Education Committee, 2014
25 September 2014