Story: When was New Zealand first settled?

Percy Smith’s genealogical dating

Percy Smith’s genealogical dating

This extract from the Journal of the Polynesian Society of 1896 shows how the 19th-century ethnologist Percy Smith used genealogy, in this case from the Ngāti Whātua tribe of Kaipara, to pinpoint the date of Polynesian arrival in Northland. Smith believed oral lore could be used to determine a date for the first human settlement. Māori viewed genealogies as a way of maintaining an enduring relationship with both the land and those who came before them, not as a dating technique.

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: S. Percy Smith, ‘The peopling of the north: notes on the ancient Maori history of the northern peninsula and sketches of the history of the Ngati-whatua tribe of Kaipara, New Zealand.’ Journal of the Polynesian Society 5 (1896): 9–10

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin and Carl Walrond, 'When was New Zealand first settled? - Genealogical dating', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/document/1781/percy-smiths-genealogical-dating (accessed 16 February 2019)

Story by Geoff Irwin and Carl Walrond, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 20 May 2016