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New Zealand

 The word “Maori” 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. 

The 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 fading.

The 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.

 The 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.

Maoris 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.  


1) The Haka is performed by the All Blacks (The national rugby team) before every game. 

Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
Ka mate! Ka mate!
Tenei te tangata puru huru!
Naa nei tiki mai whaka whiti te Ra!
Hupane! Ka Upane!
A Hupane! Ka Upane!
Whiti te Ra!
HI !

2) Some words in Maori:

Kia Ora - Hello / how are you / good morning
Haere Mai - Welcome
Mania - Flat
Maunga - Mountain, Hill
Moana - Sea, or big Lake
Motu - Island
Awa- River
Wai - Water
Whanga - Bay
Nui - large, wide, big

Iti- small

Beautiful works of Maori Art

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