Waitaha (South Island iwi)

Waitaha is an early Māori iwi (tribe or nation). Inhabitants of the South Island of New Zealand, they were largely absorbed via marriage and conquest first by the Kāti Māmoe and then Ngāi Tahu from the 16th century onward. Today those of Waitaha descent are represented by the Ngāi Tahu iwi.[1]

Iwi (tribe) in Māoridom
Rohe (region)South Island

Latter day claim

In 1995, a book by controversial author Barry Brailsford, Song of Waitaha: The Histories of a Nation, claimed that the ancestors of a "Nation of Waitaha" were the first inhabitants of New Zealand, three groups of people of different races, two of light complexion and one of dark complexion, who had arrived in New Zealand from an unspecified location in the Pacific, 67 generations before the book appeared. The book was controversial and the subject of political and tribal debate in New Zealand, and all reputable historians deny that this claimed Waitaha ever existed.

Although a series of further books, web sites and events have addressed these claims, they have been widely disputed and dismissed by scholars. Historian Michael King noted: "There was not a skerrick of evidence linguistic, artifactual, genetic; no datable carbon or pollen remains, nothing that the story had any basis in fact. Which would make Waitaha the first people on earth to live in a country for several millennia and leave no trace of their occupation."[2]


Several organisations have "Waitaha" as part of their title, often as a synonym for Canterbury or in a generic "ancient links to the land" sense. Some are:

Notable people

See also


  1. "Ngai Tahu official website". ngaitahu.iwi.nz. Ngai Tahu. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  2. Michael King (2003). The Penguin History of New Zealand. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-301867-1.
  3. "Waitaha Scout Group". scoutingotago.org.nz. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  4. "Waitaha Cultural Council". waitahaculturalcouncil.co.nz. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  5. "Canterbury/Waitaha District Council". wcdc-nzei.org.nz. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
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