New research into language evolution suggests that the Maori originated in Taiwan around 5,200 years ago. Scientists at The University of Auckland have used sophisticated computer analyses on vocabulary from 400 Austronesian languages to uncover how the Pacific was settled.
The results, published in the latest issue of the prestigious journal Science, show how the settlement of the Pacific proceeded in a series of expansion pulses and settlement pauses. The Austronesians arose in Taiwan around 5,200 years ago. Before entering the Philippines, they paused for around a thousand years, and then spread rapidly across the 7,000km from the Philippines to Polynesia in less than one thousand years. After settling Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, the Austronesians paused again for another thousand years, before finally spreading further into Polynesia eventually reaching as far as New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island.
Further reading: Science Daily