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Claims by Winston Peters he has "Chinese blood in me" surprise a Victoria University scientist who has researched Pacific colonisation.

It must be one of those rare instances where "politics informed science", molecular biosciences reader Geoff Chambers told NZPA .

"I am surprised Winston Peters has more knowledge that me, but one scholar does not dispute the findings of another."

New Zealand First leader Mr Peters told a Chinese meeting in Auckland yesterday he had never verbally attacked Asians.

In fact, as a Maori, he originally came from mainland China.

Mr Peters has been under fire from political opponents for his "racist" immigration policies, which they allege target Asians.

Citing Massey University research, Mr Peters said Maori were descended from a "high mountain national tribe" called Gao Shan Zhu.

"That means I have Chinese blood in me," he said.

Massey University referred NZPA to Dr Chambers, who has researched the colonisation of the Pacific.

"There's always something to learn from Winston," Dr Chambers said.

"There are elements of truth that I can verify in that account, but it's different from my understanding things, a little bit."

Polynesians did originate from mainland China, Dr Chambers said.

"The precise lineage, or sub tribe of historic origin, I do not know. I do not know if anyone knows," he said.

Worse for Mr Peters' claims to be sort of Chinese, DNA research had traced Maori back to the hill tribes of Taiwan -- a nation at diplomatic odds with China.

"These people are different from the mainland Chinese, which came into Taiwan later," Dr Chambers said.

"Polynesian people are not just a subset of their oriental ancestors -- there has been inter-marriage and inter-breeding, with the ancient Melanesians as well.

"They have affinities with people all over the Pacific, and the Asian mainland.

"In the way that Winston Peters has been using it, it is an enriching concept -- there's a wide brotherhood of people than might have been recognised previously."

- NZPA

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