New Zealand Indigenous Peoples

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Maori man

The Maori people claim an oral and cultural history that is rich in tradition. A tradition especially important to those who seek Maori genealogy is the whakapaka, or oral genealogies, which extend back to the first century B.C. From the original seven canoemen from northern Polynesia until today, the Maori Tribal descent is distinct and identified through each family’s oral genealogy. Earlier Polynesians known as Moriori came to New Zealand and lived on the Chatham Islands. Today approximately 500 of their descendants live in New Zealand.

Since 1946, there have been major influxes into New Zealand of people from other Polynesian islands of the South Pacific. They include Tongans, Samoans, Tahitians, Cook Islanders, Rarotongans, and Pitcairn Islanders. These people share an ancestral relationship with the Maori as well as a tradition of oral genealogies.

Significant steps have been made to preserve Maori whakapapa and other oral genealogies on audio tape. In addition, a considerable number of publications, government-created records, and oral genealogies provide differing views on Maori history, culture, affairs with government, and genealogies.

For Maori background and genealogical information, see:

Many genealogies are also available for review and research through the collection of the Family History Library (see New Zealand Genealogy). See the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


Collections of Maori genealogies are found at the Auckland Institute and Museum Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library in New Zealand. Archives New Zealand also has rich resources for Maori research.  See New Zealand Archives and Libraries for the addresses.

New Zealand Maori Regions

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