Moriori are the indigenous people of the Chatham Islands (Rēkohu in Moriori, Wharekauri in Māori), east of the New Zealandarchipelago in the Pacific Ocean. These people lived by a code of non-violence and passive resistance (see Nunuku-whenua), which made it easier for Taranaki Māori invaders to nearly exterminate them in the 1830s.
During the early 20th century it was commonly, but erroneously, believed that the Moriori were pre-Māori settlers of New Zealand, linguistically and genetically different from the Māori, and possibly Melanesian. This story, incorporated intoStephenson Percy Smith‘s “Great Fleet” hypothesis, was widely believed during the early 20th century. However the hypothesis was not always accepted.
By the late 20th century the hypothesis that the Moriori were different from the Māori had fallen out of favour amongst archeologists, who believed that the Moriori were Māori who settled on the Chatham Islands in the 16th century. The earlier hypothesis was discredited in the 1960s and 1970s.