The First Trip to New Zealand
Faces - The Magazine of People, Places and Cultures for Kids|November/December 2020
A group of people in long wooden canoes set sail from East Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean about 800 years ago. For days, they voyaged southwest. Strong currents and gusts of winds pounded them. Still, they pushed on.
Deepa Jain

Finally, they reached a lush green land enveloped by clouds. They called it Aotearoa, the “land of the long white cloud.” It is now known as the North Island of New Zealand. These people were the first to call it their home. They were the ancestors of the present Maori (MAW-ree).

New Zealand was the last large landmass (besides Antarctica) to be occupied by humans. For years, little was known about the first inhabitants of New Zealand. But now, thanks to the efforts of researchers, many of whom are Maori, the puzzle is being pieced together.

Where Did the First New Zealanders Come From?

Eighteenth-century British explorers thought that the ancestors of the Maori came from Polynesia, a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean. This was because the Maori looked like other Polynesians. They also had similar languages and customs.

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