Tuesday, August 11, 1998 Published at 06:02 GMT 07:02 UK
Maoris may have come from China
The Maoris are now believed to have come from China
By the BBC's Fuchsia Dunlop.
The ancestral roots of New Zealand's Maori population and the Polynesian peoples of the Pacific probably lie in China, according to new research.
Dr Geoffrey Chambers, a zoologist from Victoria University in New Zealand, says he has found genetic evidence of the migration of Polynesian people from the Asian mainland over many centuries.
Their oral histories tell of ancestors reaching New Zealand, which they call Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) after long boat journeys from distant islands.
Myths backed up by fact
Last month genetic research found these myths were based on historical fact and the original settlers of the country were deliberate migrants.
Now Dr Chambers says: "The information that has come from several studies in my laboratory turns out to be consistent with a pattern of migration starting with an ancestral population in mainland Asia."
Dr Chambers found less genetic variation among Maoris and Polynesians than in other population groups, which makes it likely they have repeatedly migrated over history.
Genetically protected against alcoholism
He also found their populations carry unusual genetic codes which protect them against alcohol addiction.
This new genetic theory has drawn broad support from other scientists and scholars.
Historians, linguists and anthropologists have all argued in the past the Polynesians have their roots in northern Asia.
That biological evidence should lead towards the same conclusion may have come as little surprise.