Dr Pita Sharples. January 2011. On the basis of oral records, archaeological finds and genetic analyses, we can place the arrival of Maori in New Zealand in the thirteenth century AD. The origin of the Maori has been reliably traced to the islands of Eastern Polynesia. Their journey to NZ from the mythical homeland Hawaiki occurred in a number of epic waka (canoe) voyages over a significant period of time. Legend has it that twelve large canoes each carried a different tribe (Iwi).