Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 77, 1948-49
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– 357 –

Address By The Chairman

The Evolution of Native Culture in New Zealand Moa Hunters, Morioris, Maoris


Ethnologists have long been acquainted with the differences acquired by the Polynesian cultures as the end-product of their isolation in space and long separation in time, and have always regarded Maori culture as most distinctive of all. Earlier attempts to explain the peculiarities of Maori culture have involved calling in a non-Polynesian migration. The recent discoveries at Wairau, however, show the earliest demonstrable New Zealand culture as strongly-Polynesian. Defined here as Moa-hunter, this culture is shown as the ancestor of Maori culture, which has evolved from it by the accretion of later migrations from Polynesia and a subsequent rapid adaptation to the local (North Island) environment. The Moa-hunter culture scarcely outlived the 1350 fleet, but a section of the Moa-hunters isolated in the Chatham Islands survived till the nineteenth century to become the Moriori.

The full text of this paper is being published in Mankind, the journal of the Anthropological Society of New South Wales.