First encounters (New Zealand)

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

Gilsemans 1642 by Isaack Gilsemans on Wikimedia Commons.

Entry last updated: 06/03/19


2019 marks 250 years since the first meetings between Māori and Europeans during James Cook and the Endeavour's 1769 voyage from England to Aotearoa (New Zealand). This was not the first meeting. Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman sailed into Golden Bay in 1642 and had a brief, violent encounter with Māori in 1642. Whalers started visiting New Zealand from 1791 and were followed by other traders, early settlers and missionaries from 1800. From the time of first contact, Europeans had a major impact on Maori, their land, beliefs and culture and the technologies and tools available to them.

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.

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 the Tuia Commemoration section.
  • This page has information about the different landing sites and the events planned to during the year.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

The Prow

This website is managed by Nelson Public Libraries and has historical and cultural stories from the Top of the South (Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman districts). Articles provide a short overview of what took place and a good list of other resources which could be useful.

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

European explorers had a major impact on Māori. The websites mentioned above have information about the immediate impact of contact. The explorers also opened the path for whalers, traders, missionaries and settlers. You can find out about the impacts these groups had on Māori on the following websites.

Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

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

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.


The Treaty2U website is produced by Te Papa - the Museum of New Zealand. It has some excellent information about the Treaty of Waitangi, and the background to it.

  • Select the Maori and British tab at the top of the page.
  • Select the Missionary impact link to find information the impact of Missionaries in New Zealand.


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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