The Moriori people are thought to have arrived in the Chatham Islands off the coast of New Zealand either just before or at the same time as the first Māori were busy settling on the mainland. It is sometimes claimed that the Moriori were a race that settled in New Zealand previous to the arrival of ancestors of the Māori; however it appears that there is no evidence to support this belief.

The Moriori named these islands Rekohu, after the mist which hangs over the area. Here, the Moriori remained isolated until the European discoverers arrived in 1791. Although the Moriori are close relatives of the Māori, they have distinct features which indicate an independent colonisation from tropical Polynesia....


First, the white feather worn there as a symbol of peace was stolen from the Chatham Islands Moriori, who were true pacifists.

In 1835, these peaceful islands were invaded by Te Ati Awa subtribes from Taranaki, Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama, who proceeded to commit genocide on a colossal scale.

Ngati Toa had already allowed them to annihilate Ngati Ira at Port Nicholson.

The invasion is well documented in Michael King’s book 'Moriori'.

One hundred or more Moriori women were laid out on the beach and stakes were driven through their bodies. The men were treated similarly. King gives witness accounts of how bodies were prepared to be eaten.

It was not long before a Moriori population of about 1600 was reduced to 101 survivors – a holocaust indeed.