Fact or Fiction?
While a few shipwrecks have been found predating Captain Cook, there is a general quietness and you could say even an official suppression of discussions and evidence of life in New Zealand before the arrival of the Maori.
Of the shipwrecks, there is one in the Dargaville museum, there was another thrown up by a storm of Hokitika in 2014 and the initial discussions throw out ideas of it being the Spanish Galleon, however all trace of this find seems to have vanished from the public record.
But Europeans before James Cook and Abel Tasman, we must assume are probable, but what about before the Maori?
DNA and other evidence traces some Maori back through Hawaii to Alaska and Tibet indicating a migration from Tibet. But the direct ancestors of most Maori were from Polynesia and in particular, Hawaii. However one intriguing find which in itself does not prove anything, but it does add to other theories is the Tamil ships bell found in Northland which is now in Te Papa Museum.
It is now known that the Tamils of South India travelled the Pacific some 5000 years ago and that they contributed to Pacific Island cultures.
One intriguing read is Maori and Polynesians, Their Origin, History and Culture by J. MaCmillan Brown published in 1907. This book that you can read online and it's considered rather archaic by the modern archaeological community, however it gives first-hand accounts of people and their stories in the late 1800s. This includes Maori claiming their ancestry was Indian and the disowning of a huge pile of bones in Northland that was used as fertiliser by the first European farmers to arrive.
Some 15,000 years ago it is written into Indian history that the first yogi sent one of his students to South America to teach the Dharma and technology of being human. There is also evidence of trade to Hawaii and sandalwood trees transported to Hawaii a long tine ago. MacMillan Brown draws remarkable parallels to Indian (Vedanta - yogic thought) understandings within Polynesian culture that can only mean that Polynesian culture either came in part from India or perhaps Tibet, or that they learned these concepts from their Tamil visitors.
McMillan Brown describes very well the complexity of the Pacific Island cultures and possible migration routes. But remember there is a proven DNA lineage from New Zealand away and onto South Alaska and from there, there are DNA links going back to Tibet.
But what of pre-Maori New Zealand?
McMillan Brown has an extensive discussion on this and this can be followed into the modern era with discussions by Barry Brailsford and Martin Doutré. McMillan Brown describes some of the stonework that clearly predates the Maori and within the Maori culture of time, apparently there were still remnants of a pre-Maori population living in New Zealand.
From all accounts, it seems that the Maori enslaved, killed or ate this population. But really we know so little of our history and with the genic similarities to Australian Aboriginals, the people of South India and Natal province in South Africa that suggest that these people existed together on Gondwanaland.
In the light of the fines referred to within the field of forbidden archaeology - that is anything that upsets the current accepted theories - it is not surprising that very little research goes into this subject. On the question of the New Zealand Maori, if it were conclusively proved that there was an indigenous pre-Maori population, it would negate the Treaty of Waitangi.
Critics like Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews have a vested interest in protecting their theories and pour cold water over new ideas. In my previous post on the probability that modern man has been on earth for one or two billion years, we have to remember that the Earth changes can quickly erase or trace of civilisations and we have to come back always to the fundamental understanding "we do not know for sure".
Maori and Polynesians, Their Origin, History and Culture by J. MaCmillan Brown
Celtic nz - discussions on pre Maori civilisation