Maui was not a Polynesian man-god but an ancient Welshman brought to New Zealand by the Greeks centuries before Christ. Or, he might have been an Egyptian.



The authors of a book in which those claims are made say evidence that several civilisations beat Maori to New Zealand includes a huge boulder on a Northland farm which has an ancient Greek celestial calendar - called a kronostone - carved into it. The stone has been dubbed a "Jesus' wrist watch", says shipwreck explorer Noel Hilliam, one of the authors of To the End of the Earth, which will be launched in Dargaville today.



Mr Hilliam has been striving for 50 years to prove Spaniards or Portuguese sailed to New Zealand long before Maori.



The other two authors of To the End of the Earth are New Zealand amateur pre-historians Maxwell Hill and Gary Cook.

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Their theories appear to be endorsed by the colourful, well-known British botanist, David Bellamy, who provided a foreword to the book that offers a unique rewrite of history.



To the End of the Earth includes maps of the Australian and New Zealand coastlines, said to pre-date the birth of Christ. It also catalogues rock carvings, stone buildings and oral history which the authors say prove Greek-Egyptians discovered the region centuries before the Polynesians.



The Welsh connection refers to a race of ancient people the Greeks came across when they were mining what is now north Wales for lead, copper and tin, Mr Hilliam says.



The book claims that Maori super-hero Maui was a navigator from the Red Sea who sailed under the flag of Ptolemy III in 232BC. It quotes Professor Barry Fell, of Harvard University, saying a cave inscription near Santiago, Chile, is proof Maui was actually an Egyptian navigator who claimed a 4000-mile band of the world for the king of Egypt.



In the foreword, Dr Bellamy describes the book as "a steerage log filled with a collage of artefacts any museum would like to have".



Auckland University of Technology professor Paul Moon has dismissed To the End of the Earth, saying its authors lack qualifications, and there is no evidence people came to New Zealand pre-BC.