originally meant local or original, or person who was born
there, while Pakeha meant foreigner. With time Maori
officially turned into an adjective, and it is how they
are known as today. The Maoris have a big difference to
other natives who were colonized such as the American
Indian, or the Aborigines from Australia, as these were
massacred and made to follow the rules of the colonizers.
In the case of the Maoris, there was no passive
colonization, as they replied to any invader with closed
fists, and bloody battles, which sometimes forced the
invader to flee, or go to their dinner table. The big
difference in New Zealand is the Treaty
of Waitangi, which is an agreement in which both
the “colonizers” and the Maoris had benefits.
Maori culture is
very rich and interesting, and the people are very
spiritual. Everything to do with nature is sacred; they
represent gods, and are living. A mountain for example,
could be the sister of another mountain, and everything
that exists has a spirit called Mana. If Mana
is touched by someone who is not authorized, then it could
leave, and bring bad fortune to the tribe. For example, a
simple lizard is considered a missionary from the god Whiro,
and without the Mana it could enter your body to
suck out your vital energy.Note
from the Author :
Racism is not tolerated in NZ and can see the corporate
ending up in jail. However the relationship between Maoris
and Pakehas, which have never been a bed of roses,
sometimes get into conflict. There are always racists out
there, who at any opportunity show exactly how they feel.
In the 7 years that I lived in NZ I did witness a few
cases. Fortunately they were very few. Another present
fact is that many Maoris are leaving the Maraes to work in
the big cities and this is causing some breaks in the
traditions, including the respect in which the younger
ones had for the elderly, which now seems to be slowly
Haka is a
war cry, and it is used to put fear in the enemy, or at
least to show that they have no fear. It is a rehearsed
dance and cry and it calls for the enemy to basically
bring it on. The Haka could be interpreted
more or less like this: “Come to me, look in my eyes, I
am waiting for you, I’m not afraid of you.” Facial
expressions, showing of muscles, and movement with the
arms are all used to support their point. When you watch a
Haka one thing that you will clearly see is they poke
their tongue out as far as possible. Other traditions such
as the Hongi (photo on top of the page) it
is the official greeting for the Maori. While in some
cultures you might give a kiss on the cheek of the person
you meet, the Maori touch their noses together (photo on
the top of the page). But don’t get the Hongi
mixed up with the Hangi, which is the traditional
Maori way to cook food using hot rock buried in the earth.
Marae is a
type of temple and a place for meetings. It is a sacred
place, in which you must take your shoes off to enter as
well as ask for permission. A Marae is the place where the
local community meets, and it is the true house of the
Maori, where Mana is always present. There they
celebrate especial dates, have weddings, funerals, as well
as meeting with the chief of the tribe. For a Pakeha
to enter a Marae, they first need to go through a ceremony
called Te Wero, in which a male member of the tribe
does the Haka, followed by putting a weapon on the ground.
While waiting on the outside, the Pakeha expresses that he
comes in peace, and then will have permission to enter the
Marae (photo above shows the ceremony). The entrance to
the Marae is always decorated with many sculptures, and
beautiful drawings on wood painted in red, representing
the tribe’s spirituality, and are characteristics of all
Maraes spread across New Zealand.
are masters in Art. Their
beautiful wooden sculptures and drawings are their strong
point. Dance and music are present all the time. The music
in general tells the story of people or legends, and is
very beautiful to listen. Tourists in many part of New
Zealand can appreciate traditional dances and shows such
as in the photo beside. Traditional objects and pendants
are commonly used by the Maoris, and are easily found in
souvenir shops. Tattoos for the Maori, show status and the
history of the family or tribe. The tattoos start from
puberty, and are done over the whole body, including the
face. However recently there has been a decline in the
tattoo tradition among the Maori.
Haka is performed
by the All Blacks (The national rugby team) before every
mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
mate! Ka mate!
te tangata puru huru!
nei tiki mai whaka whiti te Ra!
Hupane! Ka Upane!
Some words in Maori:
/ how are you / good morning
Mai - Welcome
or big Lake
large, wide, big
works of Maori Art