`Greeks got here first'
New Zealand history is going to be turned on its head when the book To the Ends of the Earth is launched next month, co-author Noel Hilliam says.
The controversial book, written by researcher Maxwell C Hill with additional information from Dargaville shipwreck explorer Noel Hilliam, Gary Cook and John Aldworth, looks at what they say is evidence that Greeks, Spanish and Egyptians travelled to New Zealand before Maori.
The 378-page book explores a variety of evidence from ancient maps to ancient rock formations, giant human skeletons, cave drawings, oral history and a multitude of other physical evidence.
"Our contention is that ancient Greek navigators were the first to sail down under, landing in New Zealand before the Christian era began, to become the first inhabitants of the islands," Mr Hilliam says.
Even more contentious is the book's claim that Maui was not a Maori legend but a real Egyptian explorer who may well have been the first to discover New Zealand.
Professor Barry Fell of Harvard University in the United States investigated and interpreted graffiti drawn on limestone walls in caverns at McCluer Bay on the coast of West Irian Jaya.
The book quotes Bell as having found inscriptions in Western New Guinea signed by people called Rata and Maui that date back to 232BC.
The inscriptions say they sailed from the Red Sea under the flag of Ptolemy the third. Rata was commander and Maui the navigator.
One inscription says the southern limit of coast was reached by Maui. "To this southern limit he steered the flotilla of ships...this land the navigator claims for the king of Egypt, for his queen, and for their noble son, running a course of 4000 miles, steep mighty, mountainous, on high uplifted. August day 5, regnal year 16."
Furthermore, Mr Hill m points to an ancient carved statue dedicated to Maui which stands at the western end of Anapai Beach, Abel Tasman Park, New Zealand as more evidence of an Egyptian link.
"This massive, modified rock stands more than four metres tall and, when seen in profile, is topped by an Egyptian type of head-dress," he says.
The book also interviews a man who says he is a Waitaha person or so-called original settler of the land. George Connelly says: "The people of Waitaha originally came from Egypt and in time settled Peru until we left South America returning to the Pacific with the kumara."
The book looks at maps and other physical "evidence" found throughout New Zealand. It shows maps that date back to 168AD which show New Zealand and Australia drawn on them.
The book also lists several pre-Maori carvings discovered throughout the country.
It also shows skeletons of what appear to be unusually large human bones, or giants, that may have once roamed the land.
AUT University professor Paul Moon says the authors lack credibility.
He says none of the writers have any qualifications in history, archaeology, anthropology or related disciplines.
Mr Moon questions their research and methodologies. With regards to tiki being found in a Greek and Yugoslav museum he had this to say: "Being half Yugoslav myself and familiar with the culture, the suggestion is preposterous. Not only is there no body of carving in Greece or the former Yugoslavia that matches even in a vague way the form of tiki, but the link between the two would need to be established, which has not been done."
Mr Moon also says Ptolemy's maps are not an indication at all that New Zealand was discovered by the Greeks or Egyptians.
"This is no evidence at all that people came to New Zealand at this time. On the contrary, Ptolemy's map shows a complete lack of geographical knowledge about the South Pacific."