First encounters (New Zealand)

Where can I find information about the first encounter between Māori and European explorers in New Zealand?

Senior Primary

(Years 5-8)

Illustration of Mohua (Golden Bay), Aotearoa NZ. It shows 2 of Abel Tasman's ships surrounded by Māori in their waka.

Gilsemans 1642 by Isaack Gilsemans on Wikimedia Commons.

Entry last updated: 28/04/22


2019 marked 250 years since the first meeting between Māori and the Europeans. This happened when James Cook, on board the Endeavour, sighted New Zealand on 6 October 1769. He sailed into Poverty Bay two days later. Before this, Abel Tasman sailed into Golden Bay in 1642, but after a skirmish with Māori did not make a landing.

Cook's voyage was followed by other European explorers, and people like whalers, traders, missionaries and settlers.

First encounters

The first encounters between Māori and Europeans were important and set the tone for future relationships. These websites are a good place to find information about what happened.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .govt or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

Tuia Encounters 250

This is the Ministry for Culture & Heritage website to commemorate the 250 years since the first visit of James Cook to Aotearoa (New Zealand).

  • Select Learn from the top of the page, then go to Encounters in 1769.

  • Look at Encounters in 1769 from the NZ History website to discover stories about the first meetings between Māori and Pākehā.

  • Look at Cooks place names to find out about place names around Aotearoa New Zealand related to Cook.

Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!

The Prow

This website is managed by Nelson Public Libraries and has historical and cultural stories from Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman. It has an article with an overview of what took place.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

BBC History

The British Broadcasting site has many useful educational pages.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Impacts on society

The websites below have information on the impact European explorers and settlers, and people like whalers, traders and missionaries had on Māori and their land, beliefs, culture and technology.

Te AraThe Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara also has excellent information about the impacts of colonisation on society.

  • Scroll down to Sections and select New Zealand in Brief.

  • Look at the story Māori.

  • The sections The arrival of Europeans, Decline and revival, and Urbanisation and renaissance has information about the impacts of colonisation on Māori.

  • Enter keywords such as 'colonisation impacts' or 'colonisation effects' into the search bar to see what other articles you can find.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e.g [Colonisation impacts]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Radio New Zealand

New Zealand's public radio service on news, current affairs, Pacific, Te Ao Māori, sport and more has useful information on New Zealand history.

  • Go to the tab called Podcasts & Series.

  • Select the series on The Aotearoa History Show.

  • Scroll down to the podcast on Early Encounters about the impact Europeans had on Māori food, culture, technology, weapons and conflict.


There have been some excellent books written about the impact of European exploration on Māori. Check out your local public library or school library for titles like these:

SCIS no: 1896614

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