Māori (commonly or ) are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand (Aotearoa).
- For the language, see Māori
language. For other meanings see Māori .
group probably arrived in southwestern Polynesia
in several waves at some time before
1300. The Māori settled the islands and developed a distinct
Europeans arrived in New Zealand in increasing numbers from the
late 18th century
and the weapon
technologies and diseases they introduced destabilised Māori
society. After 1840, Māori lost much of their land and went into a
cultural and numerical decline, but their population began to
increase again from the late 19th
, and a cultural revival began in the 1960s.
Naming and self-naming
In the Māori language
means "normal", "natural" or "ordinary". In legends
and other oral traditions, the word distinguished ordinary mortal
human beings from deities
Early visitors from Europe to New Zealand generally referred to the
inhabitants as "New Zealanders"
or as "natives"
became the term used by Māori to describe
themselves in a pan-tribal sense.
Māori people often use the term tangata whenua
of the land"
) to describe themselves in a way that emphasises
their relationship with a particular area of land — a tribe may be
the tangata whenua
in one area, but not in another. The
term can also refer to Māori as a whole in relation to New Zealand
(Aotearoa) as a whole.
The Maori Purposes Act
required the use of the term 'Maori' rather than 'Native' in
official usage, and the Department of Native Affairs became the
Department of Māori Affairs. It is now Te Puni Kōkiri
, or the Ministry for
Prior to 1974 ancestry determined the legal definition of "a
. For example, bloodlines determined whether a
person should enrol on the Māori
general (European) electoral roll; in 1947 the authorities
determined that one man, five-eighths Māori, had improperly voted
in the general (European) parliamentary electorate of Raglan
.The Māori Affairs Amendment
changed the definition to one of cultural
self-identification. In matters involving money (for example
scholarships or Waitangi Tribunal
settlements), the authorities generally require some demonstration
of ancestry or cultural connection, but no minimum “blood”
The Māori settlement of New Zealand represents an end-point of a
long chain of island-hopping voyages
The most current reliable evidence strongly indicates that initial
settlement of New Zealand occurred around 1280 CE. Previous dating
of some Kiore
bones at 50 - 150 CE has now
been shown to have been unreliable; new samples of bone (and now
also of unequivocally rat-gnawed woody seed cases) match the 1280
CE date of the earliest archaeological sites and the beginning of
sustained, anthropogenic deforestation.Māori oral history describes
the arrival of ancestors from Hawaiki
mythical homeland in tropical Polynesia) in large ocean
: see Māori
). Migration accounts vary among tribes
), whose members may identify with
several waka in their genealogies or whakapapa
No credible evidence exists of human settlement in New Zealand
prior to the Polynesian voyagers; compelling evidence from
archaeology, linguistics, and physical anthropology indicates that
the first settlers came from East Polynesia and became the Māori.
evolution studies at the University of Auckland suggest that most Pacific populations originated in
Taiwan around 5,200 years ago, as does mitochondrial DNA evidence.
Development of Māori culture
The Eastern Polynesian ancestors of the Māori arrived in a forested
land with abundant birdlife
including several now extinct moa
weighing from 20 to 250 kg. Other species, also now extinct,
included a swan, a goose and the giant Haast's Eagle
, which preyed upon the moa.
Marine mammals, in particular seals, thronged the coasts, with
coastal colonies much further north than .In the mid-19th century
, people discovered large numbers
of moa-bones alongside human tools, with some of the bones showing
evidence of butchery and cooking. Early researchers, such as
Julius von Haast
, a geologist,
incorrectly interpreted these remains as belonging to a prehistoric
Paleolithic people; later researchers, notably Percy Smith
, magnified such theories
into an elaborate scenario with a series of sharply-defined
cultural stages which had Māori arriving in a Great Fleet
in 1350 AD and replacing the
so-called "moa-hunter" culture with a "classical Māori"
culture based on horticulture
anthropological theories recognise no evidence for a pre-Māori
people; the archaeological record indicates a gradual evolution in
culture that varied in pace and extent according to local resources
In the course of a few centuries, growing population led to
competition for resources and an increase in warfare. The
archaeological record reveals an increased frequency of fortified
, although debate continues about the
amount of conflict. Various systems arose which aimed to conserve
resources; most of these, such as tapu
, used religious or
supernatural threats to discourage people from taking species at
particular seasons or from specified areas.
As Māori continued in geographic isolation, performing arts such as
developed from their Polynesian roots,
as did carving and weaving. Regional dialects arose, with minor
differences in vocabulary and in the pronunciation of some words.
The language retains close similarities to other Eastern Polynesian
tongues, to the point where a Tahitian
chief on Cook
's first voyage in the
region acted as an interpreter between Māori and the crew of the
1500 AD a group of Māori migrated east to Rekohu (the
Islands), where, by adapting to the local climate and the
availability of resources, they developed a culture known as
Moriori — related to but distinct from Māori
culture in mainland Aotearoa.
A notable feature of the
Moriori culture, an emphasis on pacifism
proved disadvantageous when Māori warriors
arrived in the 1830s aboard a chartered European ship.
Interactions with Europeans before 1840
European settlement of New Zealand occurred in relatively
historical times. New Zealand historian Michael King
in The Penguin History Of New
describes the Māori as "the last major human community
on earth untouched and unaffected by the wider world."
Early European explorers, including Abel
(who arrived in 1642) and Captain James Cook
(who first visited in 1769), recorded
their impressions of Māori. From the 1780s, Māori encountered
European and American sealers
; some Māori crewed on the foreign ships. A
trickle of escaped convict
and deserters from visiting
ships, as well as early Christian
, also exposed the indigenous population to outside
By 1830, estimates placed the number of Europeans living among the
Māori as high as 2,000. The newcomers had varying status-levels
within Māori society, ranging from slaves
high-ranking advisors. Some remained little more than prisoners,
while others abandoned European culture and identified as Māori.
These Europeans "gone native"
became known as Pākehā Māori
. Many Māori valued
them as a means to the acquisition of European technology,
particularly firearms. When Pomare
war-party against Titore in 1838, he had 132 Pākehā Māori
mercenaries among his warriors. Frederick Edward Maning
, an early
settler, wrote two lively accounts of life in these times, which
have become classics of New Zealand literature: Old New
and History of the War in the North of New Zealand
against the Chief Heke
During the period from 1805 to 1840 the acquisition of muskets
by tribes in close contact with European
visitors upset the balance of power among Māori tribes, leading to
a period of bloody inter-tribal
, known as the Musket Wars
which resulted in the decimation of several tribes and the driving
of others from their traditional territory.European diseases
such as influenza
killed an unknown number of
Māori: estimates vary between ten and fifty per cent.Economic
changes also took a toll; migration into unhealthy swamplands to
produce and export flax
led to further
1840 to 1890: The marginalisation of Māori
With increasing Christian missionary
activity, growing European settlement in the 1830s and the
perceived lawlessness of Europeans in New Zealand, the British Crown
, as a world
, came under pressure to intervene. Ultimately, Whitehall sent William Hobson
with instructions to take possession of New Zealand.
he arrived, Queen
annexed New Zealand by royal proclamation in January
1840. On arrival in February 1840, Hobson negotiated the Treaty of Waitangi
with northern chiefs.
Other Māori chiefs subsequently signed this treaty. In the end,
only 500 chiefs out of the 1500 sub-tribes of New Zealand signed
the Treaty, and some influential chiefs — such as Te Wherowhero
in Waikato, and Te
Kani-a-Takirau from the east coast of the North Island — refused to
sign. The Treaty made the Māori British subjects
in return for a
guarantee of Māori property rights and tribal autonomy.
Dispute continues over whether the Treaty of Waitangi ceded Māori
sovereignty. Māori chiefs signed a Māori-language version of the
Treaty that did not accurately reflect the English-language
version. It appears unlikely that the Māori version of the treaty
ceded sovereignty; and the Crown and the missionaries probably did
not fully explain the meaning of the English version.
Māori set up substantial businesses
supplying food and other products for domestic and overseas
Among the early European settlers who learnt Māori
and recorded Māori mythology
, George Grey
, Governor of New Zealand
1845-1855 and 1861-1868, stands out.
1860s, disputes over questionable land purchases and the attempts
of Māori in the Waikato to establish
what some saw as a rival to the British system of royalty led to
the New Zealand wars.
Although these resulted in relatively few deaths, the colonial
government confiscated large tracts of tribal land as punishment
for what they called rebellion (although the Crown had initiated
the military action against its own citizens), in some cases taking
land from tribes that had taken no part in the war
. Some tribes fought against the Crown, while others
(known as kupapa
) fought in support of the Crown.
of the fighting had ceased, a passive
resistance movement developed at the settlement of Parihaka in Taranaki, but Crown
troops dispersed its participants in 1881.
The Native Land Acts of 1862 and 1865 set up the Native Land Court,
which had the purpose of breaking down communal ownership and
facilitating the alienation of land. As a result, between 1840 and
1890 Māori lost 95 percent of their land (63,000,000 of 66,000,000
acres in 1890).
With the loss of much of their land, Māori went into a period of
numerical and cultural decline, and by the late 19th century a
widespread belief existed amongst both Pakeha and Māori that the
Māori population would cease to exist as a separate race or culture
and become assimilated into the European population.
In 1840, New Zealand had a Māori population of about 100,000 and
only about 2,000 Europeans. The Māori population had declined to
42,113 in the 1896 census and Europeans numbered more than
The decline of the Māori population did not continue, and levels
recovered. Despite a substantial level of intermarriage
between the Māori and
European populations, many Māori retained their cultural identity.
A number of discourses developed as to the meaning of "Māori" and
to who counted as Māori or not. (Māori do not form a monolithic
bloc, and no one political or tribal authority can speak on behalf
of all Māori.) There is no racial test to determine who is Māori or
not, merely an affinity with one's Māori ancestry (regardless of
how remote). Thus a significant percentage of those identifying as
Māori may well appear to be of European ancestry. The dominant
discourse in New Zealand mitigates against concepts of mixed race
or multiple heritage being recognised.
From the late 19th century, successful Māori politicians such as
, Apirana Ngata
, Te Rangi Hīroa
and Maui Pomare
emerged. They showed skill in the
arts of Pākehā politics; at one point Carroll became Acting Prime
Minister. The group, known as the Young Māori Party
, cut across
voting-blocs in Parliament and aimed to revitalise the Māori people
after the devastation of the previous century. For them this
adopting European ways of life such as Western medicine
education. However Ngata in particular also wished to preserve
traditional Māori culture, especially the arts. Ngata acted as a
major force behind the revival of arts such as kapa haka
and carving. He also enacted a programme
of land-development which helped many iwi
retain and develop their land.
government decided to exempt Māori from the conscription that applied to other citizens in
World War II, but Māori volunteered in
large numbers, forming the 28th or Māori Battalion, which performed
creditably, notably in Crete, North Africa and Italy.
Altogether 17,000 Māori took part in the war.
Since the 1960s, Māoridom has undergone a cultural revivalstrongly
connected with a protest
.Government recognition of the growing political power
of Māori and political activism have led to limited redress
confiscation of land and for the violation of other property rights
. The Crown set up the Waitangi Tribunal
, a body with the powers
of a Commission of Enquiry
investigate and make recommendations on such issues, but it cannot
make binding rulings. As a result of the redress paid to many
(tribes), Māori now have significant interests in the
fishing and forestry industries. Tensions remain, with complaints
from Māori that the settlements occur at a level of between 1 and
2.5 cents on the dollar of the value of the confiscated lands. The
Government need not accept the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal,
and has rejected some of them, with a and widely-debated example in
Zealand foreshore and seabed controversy
The urbanisation of Māori proceeded apace in the second half of the
20th century. A majority of Māori people live in cities and towns,
and many have become estranged from tribal
roots and customs.
, a 1994 film adapted from a 1990 novel of the same name
by Alan Duff
, brought the plight of some urban Māori
to a wide audience. It was the highest-grossing film in New Zealand
until 2006, and received international acclaim, winning several
international film prizes. While some Māori feared that viewers
would consider the violent male characters an accurate portrayal of
Māori men, most critics praised it as exposing the raw side of
. Some Māori
opinion, particularly feminist, welcomed the debate on domestic
violence that the film enabled .
In many areas of New Zealand, Māori lost its role as a living
community language used by significant numbers of people in the
years. In tandem with calls
for sovereignty and for the righting of social injustices from the
1970s onwards, many New Zealand schools now teach Māori culture and language, and
pre-school kohanga reo
("language-nests") have started, which teach tamariki (young children) exclusively in Māori.
These extend right through secondary schools (kura
). In 2004 Māori
, a government-funded channel committed to
broadcasting primarily in te
, began. Māori is an official language de jure, but
is de facto the national
language. At the 2006 Census, Māori was the second most
widely-spoken language after English, with four percent of New
Zealanders able to speak Māori to at least a conversational level.
No official data has been gathered on fluency levels.
There are seven designated Māori
in the Parliament of
(and Māori can and do stand in and win general roll
seats), and consideration of and consultation with Māori have
become routine requirements for councils and government
organisations. Debate occurs frequently as to the relevance and
legitimacy of the Māori electoral roll, although neither of the two
major political parties intends to abolish it. The National Party,
currently the major political party, has indicated that the future
of Māori seats will be reviewed when all historic treaty claims
have been lodged.
Despite significant social and economic advances during the 20th
century, Māori tend to appear in the lower percentiles in most
health and education statistics and in labour-force participation,
and feature disproportionately highly in criminal and imprisonment
statistics. Like many indigenous cultures, Māori suffer both
institutional and direct racism
.For example, in
December 2006, vandals sprayed racist graffiti on ancient Māori
rock-art at the Raincliff Historic Reserve in South
Treaty of Waitangi settlements
During the 1990s and 2000s, the government negotiated with Māori to
provide redress for breaches by the Crown of the guarantees set out
in the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. By 2006 the government had
provided over NZ$900 million in settlements, much of it in the form
of land deals. The largest settlement, signed on 25 June 2008 with
seven Māori iwi, transferred nine large tracts of forested land to
Ka Mate haka
Between 1998 and 2006, the Ngati Toa
attempted to trademark the Ka Mate haka
and to forbid its
use by commercial organisations without their permission.
Intellectual Property Office of New
Zealand turned their claim down in 2006, since Ka
Mate had achieved wide recognition in New Zealand and abroad
as representing New Zealand as a whole and not a particular
In 2009, as a part of a wider settlement of
grievences, the New Zealand
- "...record the authorship and significance of the haka Ka
Mate to Ngāti Toa and ... work with Ngāti Toa to address their
concerns with the haka... [but] does not expect that
redress will result in royalties for the use of Ka Mate or provide
Ngāti Toa with a veto on the performance of Ka Mate...".
In 2001 a
dispute concerning the popular LEGO toy-line
"Bionicle" arose between Danish toymaker
Lego Group and several Māori tribal
groups (fronted by lawyer Maui Solomon) and members of the on-line
discussion forum (Aotearoa
The Bionicle product line allegedly used many
language, imagery and folklore. The dispute ended in an amicable
settlement. Initially Lego refused to withdraw the product, saying
it had drawn the names from many cultures, but later agreed that it
had taken the names from Māori and agreed to change certain names
or spellings to help set the toy-line apart from the Māori legends.
This did not prevent the many Bionicle users from continuing to use
the disputed words, resulting in the popular Bionicle website
BZPower coming under a denial-of-service attack
days from an attacker using the name Kotiate.
In 2005 a
New Zealander in Jerusalem discovered that the Phillip Morris cigarette company
had started producing a brand of cigarette in Israel called the
"L & M Maori mix".
Phillip Morris' L&M Maori Mix
In 2006, the head of Phillip Morris,
, issued an
apology to Māori: "We sincerely regret any discomfort that was
caused to Māori people by our mistake and we won't be repeating
Jean Paul Gaultier's appropriation of the Moko
In 2007 the French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier
used ta moko
inspired designs on the faces of models
appearing in ads for the European editions of the magazine Vogue
Māori and conservation
Contemporary Māori culture
According to Tania Kopytko, Māori youth have always had a difficult
time maintaining ties with the traditional Māoritanga
culture, especially lacking "the
commitment and effort necessary for a knowledge of [it]".For this
reason , Māori youth import mainstream
and popular cultural icons, identities
, and lifestyles
in considerable quantities. Most
typically, these Māori youth will take after the African-American hip
culture, as its perceived mainstream status makes it
readily accessible to them. Kopytko also says that the socio-political
position of African Americans resisting a dominant white culture
mirrors the situation of Māori, Polynesian, and even poor-white youth resisting the oppressive white
forces which occupy the higher economic strata of society in
Finally, the mass consumption of British
punk in 1982 marked the first real establishment of a youth culture
and, more importantly, paved the
way for such a warm reception of foreign forms with the influx of
what Kopytko calls the "breakdance
package".In this way, facilitation by a pre-existing youth culture
and identification with the African-American cause have both made
importing the associated hip hop culture quite easy. One feature of this
youth import culture, breakdancing, arrived in New Zealand in 1983
Samoa, confirms Kopytko.
provided a very strong and positive identity that did much to raise
[Māori] self esteem
and realize their
capabilities." Māori youth utilize the social space that
breakdancing provides them in a very dynamic fashion, she says,
gaining recognition and notions of increased self-worth
in the process. Kopytko suggests that
this appropriation of breakdancing allowed the later arrival of
to become "a vehicle for
vernacular expressions of Māori militancy"
In years, indigenous peoples have made attempts to reconnect with
their youth. A 1992 song by the group Moana and the Moa Hunters
out to young Māori to learn the language and to accept their
heritage.The music video for this song shows images of Maori in
traditional dress doing traditional dances to a modern hip-hop
beat. The video targets youth through its rhythms while it educates
them about their heritage.
The New Zealand Law
has started a project to develop a legal framework
for Māori who want to manage communal resources and
responsibilities. The voluntary system proposes an alternative to
existing companies, incorporations, and trusts in which tribes and
and other groupings can interact
with the legal system. The foreshadowed legislation, under the
proposed name of the "Waka Umanga (Māori Corporations) Act", would
provide a model adaptable to suit the needs of individual iwi
. It seems likely that the Government coalition will
not support the Bill in its un-amended form and if the final Act
should pass into law, it will presumably depart significantly less
radically from the current legal personalities afforded by New
Māori "tend to be followers of Presbyterianism, the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), or Maori Christian groups
such as Ratana and Ringatu", but with Catholic, Anglican and
Methodist groupings also prominent. Islam
is the fastest growing religion
amongst the Maori community.
Modern socio-economic issues
Māori on average have fewer assets than the rest of the population,
and run greater risks of many negative economic and social
outcomes. Over 50% of Māori live in areas in the three highest
deprivation deciles, compared with 24% of the rest of the
population.Although Māori make up only 14% of the population, they
make up almost 50% of the prison population.Māori have higher
unemployment-rates than other cultures resident in New ZealandMāori
have higher numbers of suicides than non-Māori."Only 47% of Māori
school-leavers finish school with qualifications higher than
Level One; compared to a massive 74% European; 87% Asian."Māori
suffer more health problems, including higher levels of alcohol and
drug abuse, smoking and obesity. Less frequent use of healthcare
services mean that late diagnosis and treatment intervention lead
to higher levels of morbidity and mortality in many manageable
conditions, such as cervical cancer
per head of population than
(non-Maori). Māori also have
considerably lower life-expectancies compared to New Zealanders of
European ancestry: Māori males 69.0 years vs. non-Māori males 77.2
years; Māori females 73.2 yrs vs. non-Māori females 81.9 years.
Also, a recent study by the New Zealand Family
showed that Maori women and children are
more likely to experience domestic violence than any other ethnic
Performing arts and sports
Kapa haka is defined as a cultural performance and is well known as
an entertainment or cultural aspect of Maori life. It is very
creative and is performed to an audience or just for pure pleasure.
People may enjoy the creative and performing arts in a variety of
ways, from being an audience member to performing or participating
in the art itself.
There are many indigenous dance forms, however kapa haka is unique
in its own way as the participators must all sing and dance in
In kapa haka we see different avenues which make up the whole kapa
A song usually performed quite often in the structure of kapa haka.
Since the 1930s, action songs have been promulgated most of all by
clubs for young people which operate all over New Zealand,
especially in urban areas.
The importance of the Maori language, of holding on to customs and
traditions, were some of the key messages contained in the
songs.The traditional Maori society history was passed down orally
throughout the generations as Maori did not read or write. Waiata
were chant poems that formed the canon of Maori oral
literature.Most of the waiata are sung and written by women and
include laments, love songs, lullabies, and songs of challenge and
Poi is a performance art
ball suspended from a length of flexible material, usually a
plaited cord, held in the hand and swung in circular patterns. This
is usually accompanied by the waiata, to add rhythm and a visual
The earliest recorded performances of the Poi dates back to 1905,
when it represented the arrival of the canoe to New Zealand. One of
the Poi dances represents the arrival of the Arawa tribe
in New Zealand about 10 centuries ago,
and was called the canoe Poi. The visual scene of this would have
seen women rocking to and fro, forwards and backwards, swinging
their poi to imitate the paddling of a canoe.
The haka is a dance that is performed with loud and fierce shouts.
People sometimes refer to it as a war dance, or as a challenge to
whomever the haka is being performed.
It is widely known through pre-match performance by the All Blacks
, the New Zealand national rugby union
team, and has come to be strongly associated with New
This form of dance was used on battlefields during wartime, perhaps
because of its fierceness.
Where activities take place
Kapa haka performances and practices take place on the marae.“Marae
centred, family oriented events became an important part of urban
life, with opportunities for peer groups and multi-recreational
interaction while playing and sleeping together”This is important
as it allows families to engage in other activities and are able to
learn and pick up a lot of things during this time with family
members. Because of the growth in kapa haka and its popularity this
activity is performed nationwide and internationally.
In New Zealand society there are many kapa haka cultural
groups.There are now groups of different age levels and special
competitions or festivals are held for them.Teams from around New
Zealand gather at these festivals to compete, and show their
uniqueness and ability to perform.
This is the first and most important function of the performances:
an enrichment of national life in New Zealand, when the dominant
group can watch, listen and appreciate Māori art.
is kapa haka performed nationwide but it was also performed in
York for the opening of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art.
A recent example of a kapa haka festival was the Te Matatini
National Kapa Haka Festival , which was held in Tauranga. Many
groups performed for the honour of their areas and honour of their
iwi (tribe).Many well known groups were present, such as
Rangimarie, Te Waka Huia, and Waihirere. These groups are well
known from former festivals, and many of these groups have won the
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share similar meanings.
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(Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori) recommend the use of the
macron (ā ē ī ō ū) to
denote long vowels. Contemporary English-language usage in New
Zealand tends to avoid the anglicised plural form of the word Māori
with an "s": Māori generally marks plurals by changing the
article rather than the noun, for example:
te waka (the canoe); ngā waka (the canoes).
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