Story: When was New Zealand first settled?

The Pacific rat

The Pacific rat

The Pacific rat (kiore) is not native to New Zealand and could only have arrived here with humans. In 1996 scientist Richard Holdaway obtained 15 Pacific rat dates, by radiocarbon dating, that were significantly earlier than the accepted date of Polynesian settlement of 1250–1300. He dated some rat bones at up to nearly 2,000 years of age (50–150 AD). Most subsequent research has not supported this finding.

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Department of Conservation
Reference: 1033848
Photograph by Dick Veitch

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin and Carl Walrond, 'When was New Zealand first settled? - Rat bones', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/1783/the-pacific-rat (accessed 18 June 2019)

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