Anthropology is the scientific study of humankind, including the comparative study of different cultures and human evolution. In the 19th century the term ethnology was often used for this.

Part of story: Anthropology and archaeology

The amount of oil and gas found

Finding oil

Part of story: Oil and gas

European discovery of New Zealand

In their search for the vast ‘terra australis incognita’ (the unknown southern land) thought to lie in the Pacific, explorers made daring journeys across uncharted waters.

Part of story: European discovery of New Zealand

Caving in New Zealand

Caving is the recreational sport of finding and exploring caves. Speleology is the scientific study and exploration of caves.

Part of story: Caving

The search for gold and minerals

The discovery of gold in Coromandel in 1852 and later gold rushes led provincial governments to seek more information on mineral resources. By this time geology had become a separate

Part of story: Geological exploration

Settlement and migration

On entering the Kaituna estuary beside Ōkūrei, the bow of the Te Arawa canoe was tethered to a large rock, Tokaparore, and to an anchor rock called Tūterangiharuru,

Part of story: Te Arawa

Last discoveries

Unlikely discoverers

Part of story: European discovery of New Zealand

The lure of gold

West of Wakatipu In 1861 Gabriel Read discovered gold in Otago. The rush of prospectors to Gabriels Gully was followed by another gold

Part of story: European exploration

Initial settlement

Explorers and traders When the ancestors of Māori arrived in New Zealand, around 1250–1300 AD, they were the last wave of Polynesian explorers

Part of story: Te mahi kai – food production economics

History and historians

New Zealand’s human history may be comparatively short, but its unique characteristics mean there is a great richness in the country’s stories for historians to explore.

Part of story: History and historians

Sea floor

Very few people have explored the sea floor – a mysterious world with canyons, trenches, seamounts and hydrothermal vents, and animals ranging from microscopic worms to corals, sponges, crabs and shellfish.

Part of story: Sea floor


Abel Tasman’s voyage in 1642 aroused French interest in the South Seas, and by the 18th century French explorers were eager to seek out scientific knowledge and trading opportunities in New Zealand.

Part of story: French