The study in the November Proceedings of the Royal Society B by Stanford University researchers Marcus Feldman and Paul Ehrlich and biologist Deborah Rogers compared canoe designs compiled by A. C. Haddon and James Hornell.
They specifically analyzed morphological, decorative and construction characteristics of canoes throughout Polynesia.
"Evolution is a logical way of looking at change over time," said Ms Rogers.
The study used software programming to run though 10 million possible permutations of canoe evolution and reached the conclusion that New Zealand canoes came directly from Hawai'i.
A Hawaiian migration was once considered one of the leading hypotheses for Maori origins but lost favor among archaeologists who thought the archaeological record suggested that the Maori came from more southern parts of eastern Polynesia. A genetic study might help in providing any verification of this latest suggestion.
Paul Kekai Manansala
Deborah S. Rogers, Marcus W. Feldman, and Paul R. Ehrlich. “Inferring population histories using cultural data,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Vol. 276 No. 1674, November 7, 2009.