New Zealand/Aotearoa

Authored by: Nancy Tayles , Siân Halcrow

The Routledge Handbook of Archaeological Human Remains and Legislation

Print publication date:  March  2011
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415588577
eBook ISBN: 9780203838716
Adobe ISBN: 9781136879562


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This chapter will focus on the New Zealand Maori, the prehistoric inhabitants of New Zealand. Maori are Polynesians who settled the country about 1000 years ago from an unidentified location to the north, in Polynesia. They are the tangata whenua, literally ‘the people of the land’. In early historic times, Europeans (principally British) and Asians (particularly Chinese, attracted to the goldfields in the first instance) settled in New Zealand, but clearly the Maori are the reason New Zealand physical anthropology is distinctive. We will also make some references to the Moriori, who are of the same Polynesian descent as the Maori but, early in the human settlement of New Zealand, migrated to a small group of islands east of New Zealand, the Chatham Islands (Wharekauri), where they became isolated for some centuries and so form a separate population.

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