Story: When was New Zealand first settled?

Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory

Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory

Radiocarbon dating is one of the main lines of evidence of Polynesian arrival some time between 1250 and 1300. Since the 1950s, when this method was developed, scientists have learnt more about its application in the New Zealand setting. For example, they have found that some materials (such as moa eggshells) can generally be more reliably dated than others (such as the bones of omnivores). In the late 1990s moa eggshells from a moa-hunting archaeological site at Wairau Bar in Marlborough were radiocarbon dated at 1288–1300 by the Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, giving one of the earliest reliable dates for New Zealand settlement.

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University of Waikato
Photograph by Alan Hogg

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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, (accessed 23 February 2024)

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