New research, which suggests New Zealand was first colonised around the mid-13th century, is challenging some Maori oral histories, which say Maori have been here for 1000 years.
History Professor Paul Moon of Auckland University of Technology says the findings, published in the American journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could impact on the debate about Maori land rights and possibly on settlements at the Waitangi Tribunal.
The research, which used radiocarbon dating, shows Maori settled here about 300 years before Europeans arrived.
Professor Moon says the new research throws oral histories into confusion and could impact on claims at the Waitangi Tribunal.
He says rights claims based on a long association with the land could be countered by the new evidence suggesting the association is not that long.
However, Api Mahuika of Ngati Porou says he does not think it is the last word in scientific research and that he continues to believe in the oral tradition.