Some were kept by the Māori as slaves, while others settled in Māori communities by choice, many being runaway seamen or escaped convicts. They were often welcomed, took wives and were treated as Māori, particularly in the first two decades of the 19th century. The rarity of Europeans in New Zealand and the importance of trade in European goods (particularly muskets) made Pākehā Māori highly prized for their trading skills. Some achieved a degree of prestige among the Māori and fought in battle with their adopted tribe in the New Zealand land wars, sometimes against European soldiers. While some lived the rest of their lives amongst Māori, others, such as lapsed missionary Thomas Kendall, did so only briefly.
As more Europeans arrived, the status of early Europeans among Māori fell and some of the early Pākehā Māori reverted to a more European existence.
The early settler Frederick Edward Maning published two books under the pseudonym Pākehā Māori in which he describes how they lived.
Notable Pākehā Māori
- Kimball Bent
- Barnet Burns
- James Caddell
- Thomas Kendall
- David MacNish
- Frederick Edward Maning
- Jacky Marmon
- John Rutherford
- Pakeha Maori: The extraordinary story of the Europeans who lived as Maori in early New Zealand by Trevor Bentley; published 1999 ISBN 0-14-028540-7
- Old New Zealand: being Incidents of Native Customs and Character in the Old Times by 'A Pakeha Maori' (Frederick Edward Maning) Gutenberg ebook, originally published 1863