is an early historical Māori iwi
. Inhabitants of the South Island
of New Zealand
, they were largely absorbed via marriage and conquest first by the Kāti Mamoe
and then Ngāi Tahu
from the 1500s onward.
Today those of Waitaha descent are represented by the Ngāi Tahu iwi
Another iwi known as Waitaha lived in the Horowhenua area of the lower North Island.
"Nation of Waitaha"
In 1995 a book by Barry Brailsford
, Song of Waitaha: The Histories of a Nation
, claimed that the ancestors of the "Nation of Waitaha" were the first inhabitants of New Zealand, a pale-skinned people who had sailed there from Easter Island
more than 2000 years before Polynesians arrived. It was claimed the "secret" Waitaha story had been suppressed for 200 years and the evidence of their occupation and existence, such as stone structures, had been mistaken for natural formations or Maori artifacts.
Although a series of further books, web sites and New Age events have been based around these claims, they have been widely dismissed as inaccurate by conventional 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."
A number of organisations have "Waitaha" as part of their title, often in a generic "ancient links to the land" sense, or as a synonym for Canterbury
rather than either claiming actual tribal descent, or links to the philosophies of Brailsford. These include: