Māori history

Image: Group of Māori in front of a Masterton meeting house, by James Bragge, 1865. Alexander Turnbull Library. PA7-30-16-2

This collection of online resources explores the history - spanning more than 700 years - of Māori the tangata whenua – the people of the land. Topics range from food gathering and agriculture, housing, arts and crafts, and beliefs, to European contact, the signing of the Waitangi treaty and beyond. SCIS 1700715

Christchurch City Libraries

Christchurch City Libraries Kids’ pages has links to information on many Māori topics including traditional Māori crafts, songs and games. Before the treaty was signed includes information about the treaty, pressures on Māori, Busby and seeking to form a government.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate

Digital NZ

This site provides access to thousands of pictures, video, sounds and objects from New Zealand museums, libraries, galleries, archives and private institutions. To discover sets and items consider search terms such as Māori - Pre-European History or Māori Post European.

Suggested level: primary/intermediate/secondary


History of New Zealand 1769-1914

Includes first contact, musket wars, British first steps and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

He Whakapapa Reo Māori - Short history of Māori language

Prior to the 19th century Māori language was a spoken language and the sole language of communication. This site has other useful links listed down the left-hand side to information about protocol, myths and legends, proverbs, and waiata.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary


To discover information on the school work site ManyAnswers use the search term Māori history.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

The New Zealand Wars

Presents a Maori perspective on the New Zealand Wars fought between Maori and Pakeha in the 19th century. Includes causes, campaigns and consequences.

Suggested level: secondary

Ngati Porou ki Poneke

Presents the history of Ngati Porou as told by Ta Tamati Muturangi Reedy. Includes Maori history pre and post European contact.

Suggested level:  intermediate, secondary

Puke Ariki

This interactive tour of a Māori pā shows how pā were built in pre-European times and the changes made after European contact.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate

The Science Learning Hub

This site includes information on traditional Māori medicine (rongoā) and the specific native plants that were used.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

Te Ara – the encyclopedia of New Zealand

The Te Ara website has extensive information on Māori history, life, and culture including:

The story of Māori
Describes the arrival of Māori to New Zealand, subsequent settlement and traditional culture.

Māori New Zealanders
Explores Māori origins, early migrations including canoe traditions and navigation, and tribal organisation in New Zealand.

Keyword search for Māori topics
To find other entries on aspects of Māori culture click on the Keywords heading on the left-hand side. Scroll down the page and click on the heading Māori life and traditions then select your topic or story on the righthand side.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

Te Papa: The Museum of New Zealand

Te Papa holds a collection of over 30,000 Māori taonga. Their website provides online access to information and downloadable images for many of these treasures. Specific topic guides on Māori weaving, Māori cloaks, Māori medicine (rongoā) and pounamu are available.

Also has section on Māori in the the 20th century, which covers Māori leadership and equality, Urban Māori and Māori land rights.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

Titiro whakamua kia anga whakamuri

Presents a range of materials relating to aspects of Māori history and its teaching. Content is in te reo Māori.

Suggested level:  primary, intermediate

Tuhoe: Our History

Presents the history of Tuhoe as a timeline both pre and post European contact.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary


Have you thought about using fiction with your class to support your topic? The following are some suggestions for your students (and you!) to read and enjoy.

Remember that November, by Jennifer Beck, 2012, (picture book)
The castle in our backyard, by Malcolm Paterson, 2010 (picture book)
The house of the people, by R. L. Bacon, 1983 (picture book)
The House that Jack built: being the account of Jack Bull esq…., by Gavin Bishop, 1999 (sophisticated picture book)
The Koroua and Mauri stone, by Robyn Kahukiwa, 1994 (picture book)
The Parihaka woman, by Witi Ihimaera, 2011, (YA fiction)


The Māori today, ArchivesNZ. YouTube. 15.49

Dan Snow learns about Māori history, New Zealand 100% Pure. YouTube. 3.14

Keeping Kites Flying. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa. YouTube. 2:55

Music to Māori Ears. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa. YouTube. 4:16