Horticulture flourished using plants they introduced, and later a prominent warrior culture emerged.The arrival of Europeans to New Zealand starting from the 17th century brought enormous changes to the Māori way of life.
Over several centuries in isolation, the Polynesian settlers developed a unique culture that became known as "Māori", with their own language, a rich mythology, distinctive crafts and performing arts.
Early Māori formed tribal groups, based on eastern Polynesian social customs and organisation.
The term can also refer to the Māori as a whole in relation to New Zealand (Aotearoa) as a whole.
The Maori Purposes Act of 1947 required the use of the term "Māori" rather than "Native" in official usage.
In addition, more than 140,000 Māori live in Australia.
The Māori language (known as Te Reo Māori) is still spoken to some extent by about a fifth of all Māori, representing 3% of the total population.
Rising tensions over disputed land sales led to conflict in the 1860s.
Social upheaval, decades of conflict and epidemics of introduced disease took a devastating toll on the Māori population, which fell dramatically.
Previous dating of some kiore (Polynesian rat) bones at 50–150 CE has now been shown to have been unreliable; new samples of bone (and now also of unequivocally rat-gnawed woody seed cases) match the 1280 date of the earliest archaeological sites and the beginning of sustained deforestation by humans.
Māori oral history describes the arrival of ancestors from Hawaiki (the mythical homeland in tropical Polynesia), in large ocean-going waka.
The earliest period of Māori settlement is known as the "Archaic", "Moahunter" or "Colonisation" period.