Māori history

Where can I find information about Māori history?

Entry last updated: 31/05/19

Introduction

Māori first arrived on the shores of Aotearoa New Zealand over 700 years ago (estimates range from 1250 to 1300 AD). They traveled by waka (canoe) from east Polynesia, and landed at various points along the New Zealand coast. The arrival of European settlers in the 1800s had a huge impact on Māori and their way of life. This entry will show you where to find information about Māori history, from when they first arrived until today.

General Websites

These New Zealand-based websites provide an excellent overview of the Māori people - their origins, influences, leaders, heroes, and landmark events in their history.

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.

There are many ways to explore this website.

  • Scroll down the page to Māori New Zealanders to read about Māori iwi (tribes), and origins and arrivals by various waka(canoes).
  • Use the section called Dictionary of New Zealand Biographies to search for life stories of important people in Māori history like Whina Cooper or Peter Buck .
  • You can also use the search box to look for information on significant events such as the New Zealand Wars or historic regions like the Taranaki region.
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.

NZHistory

NZHistory is another great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. This website also belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage.

You can search this site using the search box or use the tabs to guide you to various aspects of Māori history.

Tips: A website’s address (URL) can give you a hint about how reliable it is. Look for addresses in the results that include .govt or .edu in the URL. These are quality sites from overseas government or educational organisations.

Treaty of Waitangi Collection

The Treaty of Waitangi Collection provides access to a range of full text e-books. It is part of the EPIC collection of databases which contain reliable information for New Zealand students.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Topic Explorer

Topic Explorer is an online tool from the National Library of New Zealand. It contains a wide range of quality resources for students selected from reliable national and international sources.

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.

NZ On Screen

NZ On Screen is an online showcase of New Zealand television, film and music videos on news, current affairs, sport and various other categories.

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.

Primary sources

Primary sources are things like letters, photos, interviews, video clips and newspaper articles, that show what life was like at that particular time in history.

DigitalNZ

DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on all things New Zealand. It connects you to reliable digital collections from New Zealand libraries, museums, galleries, government departments, media and community groups.

  • Try searching for 'Hikoi' (Māori marches or protests) to find images, audio, videos and stories on this topics.
  • The tab More connects you to articles, newspapers, research papers, and websites etc for you to explore.
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.

Te Ao Hou

This is the online version of a bilingual quarterly published by the Māori Affairs Department from 1952 to 1976.

  • You can search by keywords or browse by issues, authors and subjects like Māori history, society, culture, music and literature.
  • For example, the issue from September 1964 has an article about Hone Tuwhare the Māori poet and The Story of the Rainbow which is about Māori traditions about the rainbow.

Papers Past

Papers Past is a searchable collection of early New Zealand newspapers (19th and 20th centuries), letters, diaries, magazines and Parliamentary Papers digitised by the National Library and partners.

  • Select Newspapers and type in search words 'Treaty of Waitangi' to find a range of articles reported in newspapers from around the country.
  • Use the same search to find information in Magazines and Journals, Letters and Diaries and Parliamentary Papers.
  • Each collection has tools and guidelines to help you refine your search if you need to.
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, eg Māori history. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Books

There are lots of books about Māori history. Check with your school or local public library to see what they have.

Here are few popular titles:

First footprints: people, land, and resources in Aotearoa by Peter Adds, Bronwyn Wood

Face to face: two cultures meet in Aotearoa by Terri Kessell

Framing the frontier: life in 19th-century Aotearoa by Terri Kessell

Tangata Whenua: the world of the Māori by D.M. Stafford.

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