Arrival and settlement of Māori in Aotearoa NZ

Large traditional double-hulled vaka in Rarotonga moored with sails let down

Large traditional double-hulled vaka in Rarotonga by Teinesavaii. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0. Image cropped.

Here are curated teaching and learning resources related to themes about the arrival and settlement of Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Topic Explorer sets

These sets contain quality, curated resources — websites, images, videos, books, and more — to support and inspire inquiry. Each topic features a carefully selected set of national and international resources from trustworthy and reliable, national and international sources (e.g. Alexander Turnbull Library, Te Ara, National Geographic, and the BBC).

The following topic sets relate to the arrival and settlement of Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand:

He Tohu activities and resources

He Tohu is a permanent exhibition of 3 iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand:

The following activities and resources will inspire students to understand stories and actions from the past.

Learning activities


He whenua rangatira — a Māori land (YouTube video, 4:10) — see the history of Māori arrivals from 1200, European arrivals from 1642, and the signing of He Whakaputanga from 1835 to 1839.

Curiosity cards

Curiosity cards use images and fertile questions to spark student inquiry about Aotearoa New Zealand.

Curiosity cards that relate to the first arrival of Polynesians to Aotearoa New Zealand and early Māori cultural traditions include:

Many Answers and AnyQuestions

Many Answers entries are designed to guide students to reliable and trustworthy websites. The following entries will help them find information on the arrival and settlement of Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand:


AnyQuestions offers free online help for all New Zealand school students from 1pm to 6pm weekdays during the school year.

Students can log in to the website and chat with librarians who are specially trained to help them find answers to questions related to topics such as New Zealand history. Librarians develop students' ability to source and critically evaluate quality online information sources. Teachers can also book classroom sessions.

Lending service for schools

Borrow books from our lending service — we have an extensive collection of picture books, fiction, and non-fiction to support and expand student inquiry into the arrival and settlement of Māori in Aotearoa.

Some popular titles related to this topic include:

  • ‘The Castle in Our Backyard’ by Malcolm Paterson, 2010.
  • ‘First Footprints: People, Land and Resources in Aotearoa’ by Peter Adds and Bronwyn Wood, 2006.
  • ‘Legends of Ngātoro-i-rangi’ by Karen Taiaroa-Smithies and Mervyn Taiaroa, 2006.
  • ‘The Māori: Before the Europeans Came to New Zealand’ by Kevin Boon, 1998.
  • ‘Pathway of the Birds: The Voyaging Achievements of Māori and Their Polynesian Ancestors’ by Andrew Crowe, 2019.
  • ‘People, People, People: A Brief History of New Zealand’ by Stevan Eldred-Grigg, 2011.
  • ‘Purakau: Maori Myths Retold by Maori Writers’ by Witi Ihimaera, 2019.
  • ‘Taming the Sun: Four Māori Myths’ by Gavin Bishop, 2008.
  • ‘Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History’ by Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney, and Aroha Harris, 2014.
  • ‘Two Voyages: The First Meeting of Māori and Europeans and the Journeys That Led to It’ by David Horry, 2018.

Other National Library tools and resources

The following tools and resources can also help you find resources to capture student interest and build their understanding of Aotearoa New Zealand history.

EPIC — gives your school free access to thousands of online resources, including magazines, journals, newspapers, biographies, reference works, images, eBooks, and multimedia. Note that you may need a school login. Some EPIC resources invaluable for Aotearoa New Zealand history studies include:

DigitalNZ — find, curate, and share content from New Zealand libraries, museums, galleries, media, and more. Content includes historic and contemporary items such as photographs, paintings, posters, and videos.

Papers Past — search and browse digitised New Zealand historical newspapers (including some in te reo Māori), magazines, journals, letters, diaries, and parliamentary papers.

INNZ — Index New Zealand is a searchable database that contains abstracts and descriptions of articles from New Zealand magazines and newspapers published from the 1950s to the present day.

Primary sources — how to use them — primary sources are original, firsthand, often unedited records of an event. They are a powerful teaching and learning tool. Find out where to find quality, trusted primary sources, and how to use them effectively.