Who Was Here Before Us


The documentary “Who Was Here Before Us” – explores the controversy over who came to New Zealand first – and when.

The settlement of the Pacific was a remarkable event and it seems all the more so because we don’t really understand how it was done.  It was the last major part of the world to be settled, to be reached by humans and it was the first ocean.  So looking at it in world history, this is the first time humans colonized an ocean, and in doing so they reached, Australia, New Guinea and Oceania.  When the first Europeans arrived and began to penetrate the Pacific gradually, they were surprised to find that someone had…been here already.  They were also surprised to see very large canoes, some of them over 100 feet long in what’s now the Society Islands, over-taking their own, more ponderous boats.  Since that time, for 250 years at least, there’s been a major debate.  A debate in which a lot of people have taken part.  Academics, navigators, lay people debate – who came to New Zealand first – and when.

“The amazing thing we keep forgetting in this argument is that even at the latest dates, the people who came to New Zealand were sailing across the Pacific and back at the same time as the Normans were trying to make it across the English Channel.  That’s an achievement we should be celebrating.”


Promotional Trailer

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Production Details

Producer: Tony Manson

Exec producer: John Harris

Network executive: Geoff Steven

Director: Mark McNeill

Researcher: Brad Mercer

Writers: Brad Mercer, additional writer, Chris Wilks

Editor: Tim Woodhouse

Online editor: Matthew Coubrough

Production manager: Karren Woolly

Production assistant: Emilie Stevenson

DOP: Renaud Maire

Camera: George Johns, Andy Coleman

Sound: Terry King

Additional sound: Paul Skelton, Malcolm Cromie

Narrator: Jeffrey Thomas

Production accountant: Glenda Paterson

Funded by: TVNZ