Story: When was New Zealand first settled?

The stepping-stone islands

The stepping-stone islands

The Kermadec Islands were ideal stepping stones for seafarers heading to New Zealand from East Polynesia. Canoes traveling south-west had a high chance of intercepting the Kermadec group. Distinctive obsidian rock from Mayor Island in New Zealand has been found on Raoul Island (the northernmost island of the Kermadec group) – proof that canoes got at least this far back towards island Polynesia. In addition, DNA analysis of Pacific rats from the Kermadecs and Norfolk Island shows different strains, suggesting that there were multiple introductions of the rat. This tends to support the theory that these islands were used in return voyages between the tropical Pacific and New Zealand.

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin and Carl Walrond, 'When was New Zealand first settled? - Radiocarbon dating', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/map/1784/the-stepping-stone-islands (accessed 15 May 2021)

Story by Geoff Irwin and Carl Walrond, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 May 2016