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Percy Smith, were based on genealogies and oral histories, many of which - when assigned an average generation length of 25 years - converged on a settlement date around 1350 AD while others appeared to go back much further.This resulted in the classic theory, which all schoolchildren were once taught, that New Zealand had been discovered around 750 AD then settled by later migrations, culminating in the "Great Fleet" of seven canoes around 1350 AD.Some researchers now conclude that the weight of all the radiocarbon and DNA evidence points to New Zealand having been settled rapidly in a mass migration sometime after the Tarawera eruption, somewhere in the decades between 13 CE The debate over Māori population size has two main areas of interest, how many settlers came to New Zealand and what was the population when European contact occurred.The second number is partly an historical questions and estimated populations have not strayed far from Captain Cook's first estimate of 100,000, Māori culture has been in constant adaptation to New Zealand's changing environment.When radiocarbon dating started being used in the 1950s, it appeared to support the idea of early settlement, though the "great fleet" itself fell out of favour when scholars showed that there were inconsistencies in the genealogies that Smith had based his theory on.However, by the mid-1990s, as radiocarbon dating methods were improved and sources of error better understood, it was realised that the early dates were not reliable and that the most reliable radiocarbon dates all pointed to a more recent first settlement, closer to 1300 CE or even later.

As early settlers to New Zealand came in great numbers with supplies for planting numinous crop types it is speculated that it was a planned migration to a known location.

This was confirmed in 2011 by a meta analysis of dates from throughout the Pacific which showed a sudden pulse of migration leading to all of New Zealand being settled (including the Chatham Islands) no earlier than ca 1290 AD.

others are revising it upward even further to around 1320 AD or later, based on new evidence from moa egg shells and from the Kaharoa eruption of Mount Tarawera (1314±6 AD), whose tephra forms a geological layer below all well-dated human and rat sites.

There is also no evidence for domestic pigs and chickens from the Pacific making it to New Zealand and it can be inferred that they would have, should trade networks have been built.

There is also evidence that obsidian was traded throughout New Zealand from soon after arrival.

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