Discover the Information About Maori Culture in New Zealand
New Zealand's Maori culture is an integral part of Kiwi life and adds a distinctive, dynamic experience for visitors.
Maori would be the tangata whenua, the indigenous people, of recent Zealand. Maori people live throughout Nz, and many are actively associated with keeping their culture and language alive. They came here a lot more than 1000 years ago from their mythical Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki. Today Maori constitute 14% of our population and their history, language and traditions are central to New Zealand’s identity.
Maori would be the tangata whenua (indigenous people of the land) of recent Zealand and their culture is an integral part of recent Zealand life. About 15% of the country’s population of three.8 million is of Maori descent. Maori really are a tribal people and their tribes are classified as iwi. Visitors to New Zealand are given many opportunities to experience Maori culture first-hand. Most widely known of these is the geo-thermal region of Rotorua within the North Island, where tourists can also enjoy Maori kai (food) cooked on hot stones underground included in a traditional hangi. They can also enjoy a Maori powhiri (welcome), visit local marae (meeting houses), pay attention to kapa haka (traditional performances of song and dance) and relax within the popular thermal pools. Maori culture forms the foundation of New Zealand culture and is the essence of their society.
You’re bound to hear Te Reo Maori, the Maori language, on your travels in New Zealand. There’d be few New Zealanders who don’t recognise common Maori terms and phrases. You’ll probably choose a few up yourself. Begin with ‘kia ora’ – hello!
Maori Art & Performance
Maori cultural performances, including traditional singing, dancing and haka (ancient war dances) really are a wonderful way to experience the west first hand. In Rotorua, and indeed through the country, organised tours give a traditional Maori welcome onto a marae (meeting area), where one can enjoy a cultural show accompanied by a hangi feast cooked in earth ovens.
Maori people define themselves by their iwi (tribe), hapu (sub-tribe), maunga (mountain) and awa (river). Whanau may be the name given to family – the word embraces immediate family, in-laws and all sorts of those connected by blood ties.
Recently, the introduction of Maori language nests (kohanga reo) has revived the Maori language. At kohanga reo, preschool youngsters are encouraged to speak in Maori. Primary and secondary schools develop this early immersion by including Maori within the curriculum.
Traditional carvers also help with keeping Maori culture alive by creating intricate works that pay respect towards the past. Every piece carved tells a tale, which can be read by people who know how. The shape of the heads, position from the body as well as the surface patterns interact to record and remember events.
Maori visual arts like carving, weaving and tattooing will also be alive and well in Nz. Precious adornments and traditional weapons are available in museums and at cultural centres on islands. They provide a fascinating gateway to New Zealand’s history, and when you catch a carving or weaving demonstration, you’ll observe that many of the techniques used remain unchanged even today. Compare this with contemporary types of Maori art, fashion, film and tv, and you’ll find that Maori creative expression is continuously growing and developing.
Whilst many international visitors is going to be familiar with the Maori haka, performed just before each All Blacks game, there are lots of other forms of Maori performance. Manufactured under the term ‘kapa haka’, performance arts for example poi dances, waiata a ringa (action songs) and waiata tawhito (traditional Maori chant) are utilized to tell stories, convey history, celebrate, protest and entertain.
You will find three main forms of Maori carving: Wood, Bone and Pounamu (greenstone).
Intricate wood carvings are available on meeting houses and marae throughout Aotearoa (New Zealand). They are created by master carvers, versed within the oral traditions of the tribe. These carvings tell the storyline of the tribe and important historical and mythological ancestors. Wood carving can also be used to create waka (canoes), certain weapons and instruments.
Bone carving (traditionally using whale bone, but nowadays utilising beef bone) is yet another important Maori art form. Bone carvings can be used for adornment – usually worn as necklaces. Specific shapes are utilized to symbolise certain things:
- Fish Hook: The fish hook (Hei Matau) shape is a vital symbol, representing the myth of Maui. Maui fished in the North Island using a hook produced from the jaw of his grandmother – the fish-hook therefore represents the ability and influence of the ancestors. The Hei Matau can also be considered a talisman – bringing best of luck and protection during a voyage.
- Koru (fern frond): Bone carvings depicting the koru design represent the unfurling fern frond. This really is symbolic of new life and regeneration. The twist from the koru also represents eternity, and also the coming together of peoples.
- Manaia: Manaia bone carvings represent the mythical beings of the identical name. These beings had humans with bird heads. They’re considered guardians against evil.
- Tiki: Tiki bone carvings derive from the mythical figures often depicted in meeting house and waka carvings.