By Ian Bradford

At Cape Reinga there is a hillock that, according to Maori lore and the accompanying sign the spirits of dead Maori leave from on their journey home to Hawaiki.

The meaning of indigenous

Maori claim to be indigenous to NZ. But what does that word mean?  Here are a few definitions:

  1. Originating or occurring naturally in a particular place
  2. A place-based human ethnic culture that has not migrated from its homeland.
  3. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition: Occurring naturally in a particular region or environment.
  4. Cambridge Dictionary:  Naturally occurring in a place rather than arriving from another place.
  5. Collins Dictionary: Indigenous people belong to the country in which they are found rather than coming from another country.

Under these definitions, Maori cannot claim to be indigenous. Quite clearly, Maori came here in canoes.  We even have the names of these canoes: Aotea, Arawa, Tainui, Kurahaupo, Takitimu, Horouata, Tokomaru, Mataatua.

Originally Asian people

About 6,000 years ago a small group of people migrated from mainland Asia and settled in Taiwan. They became part of a seafaring culture and from there travelled down past Papua New Guinea.  Eventually, in about 1250 AD, they arrived in New Zealand.

Recent excavations in the Pacific have confirmed that 3,000 year old skulls of early ancestors of Maori were from Asian farming groups. The genomic makeup could give insights into why obesity and diabetes are problems for Maori and Pasifika today. These ancestors travelled long distances and so were good at storing fat for these journeys without much food. Today, however, storing fat is not a good thing. 

Now if some think indigenous means the first here, then calling Maori indigenous on that basis also fails.

There is plenty of evidence to support the conclusion that Maori were not the first inhabitants of New Zealand.

The trouble is there seems to be so much deceit and cover up that it is difficult to get information on pre-Maori settlement. Maori cannot claim first nation status either.

Predecessors of the Pacific colonists built stone structures in Northland

Let’s start with the Waipoua forest stone structures in Northland. Maori did not generally build in stone. There is a record of a stone wall supposedly built by Maori, but in most cases Maori built with wood and raupo.  So the question is — who built the Waipoua structures, and when? 

The structures cover hundreds of acres. Although early Europeans knew of the structures and wondered about their origin, it was not until 1983 that a group of archaeologists from Auckland University were employed by the then NZ Forest Service to investigate and document these structures. They were confined to about 500 acres. The cost to the taxpayer then was about half a million dollars.

The archaeologists made detailed notes on stone walls, hearths, altars, obelisks, rock carvings, standing stone circles, circular stone mounds, and stone lined waterways.  They took samples for carbon dating.

In 1988 archaeological records were transferred from Kaikohe to the National Archives in Wellington. On the agreement for the transfer of archives it states:  “Prior consultation requires approval of the Te Roroa-Waipoua Archaeological Committee or other subsequent Te Roroa authority” The Te Rorora iwi and DOC then modified the transfer agreement to include a 75 year embargo on the records!

They were to be locked away and not given access to anyone for 75 years [they won’t be available until 2063]. 

The Waipoua stone city is not accessible

Further, at the end of the excavations all access to the area was denied. Visitors were turned away. DOC denied requests by historians and archaeologists. Members of the public were threatened by the local iwi if they went to visit the structures. This is the text of one threatening note left on a vehicle:

“You have entered this area without prior authority and act as thieves. The next time you do this you will be treated as such and suffer loss.”

Most subsequent requests to visit the site have been turned down.

One of the archaeologists Noel Hilliam, who worked on the sites, who saw the dating, said that the initial daring went back to 2225 BC. That is 3,150 years before Maori history began in NZ. Many have tried to obtain the records. Eventually some were released, but the carbon dating has never been released. It is interesting that Maori make no claim as to what/how/why the stone city exists. So it seems unlikely that it is Maori. 

The Waipoua Forest stone city should be a national treasure. In actual fact it is being ignored and not protected and its destruction is actually encouraged. This being so, one must conclude it is not of Maori origin, and Maori and the NZ Government do not want its existence to be recognised by the public or world at large.  

Waitaha people worth researching

 We do have data from a food midden at Motuhuru. This showed a date of 950 AD. Maori arrived in the period 1200-1250 AD.  So clearly there were people living in the Waipoua forest when Maori arrived. The date of 900-950 AD was confirmed from two other sites, one of which was Kokohuia which gave a date of 900 AD.

Perhaps these were middens left by the Waitaha people who may have shared the land with the “Stone People.” I leave the reader to research the Waitaha people.  The Waitaha claiming that they pre-empt the Maori of course challenge the Waitangi Tribunal.

However, the stone structures speak of a long ago race of stone builders.  Have we any idea of their origin?  There are various theories. Many consider that the many large piles of collapsed stones were the remains of beehive buildings. It seems many of these are found throughout New Zealand. 

Stone Age culture in New Zealand

The stone hovel dome was a common form of domicile in Megalithic Great Britain and Continental Europe. (The Megalithic culture lasted from 2500 BC to 200 BC.) So it appears that the same methods were used by these pre-Maori “Stone People.” These beehive type huts can be seen on the Island of Malta. There they are called girna. They are used by hunters and farmers when both visit the area. This may have been the case in NZ too, since the structures would have been relatively small. Further remains of beehive stone huts are found on the Island of Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands.

Skara Brae

Archaeologist Noel Hilliam evidence of a radio carbon date of 2225 BC fits in with the Megalithic culture period in Britain and Europe. It is interesting to note that in constructing these beehive houses and in fact all the stone structures in Britain and Europe no binding material was used – no mortar.  This is the case with the structures in the Waipoua forest.  Here then is one possibility for the stone structures.

Where did the builders come from?  There’s not enough known yet about their origins. However, early ocean exploration began around 5000 BC with the first sailing vessels.  About 2500 BC, merchants were setting out from what is now Iraq, carrying silver ingots to India. They would have had to sail around the bottom of Africa and into the Indian Ocean. It is highly feasible that some of these early explorers reached New Zealand.  

Not acknowledging our early history

It appears that the embargo on the Waipoua forest excavations is only one of some 105 cases, mostly concerning burial sites. Many of the Waipoua sites have been destroyed by logging operations and by grazing cattle.