Maori Culture of New Zealand is from a new friend, Arlette Green. She knows pretty much everything about both Australia and New Zealand since that is where she lives and travels every time she can. We look forward to having her be a part of our blog team and she has submitted a really interesting story about the Maori of New Zealand. I hope you enjoy it and you can connect with her through her Twitter account if you are planning a trip and need help.
Maori Culture of New Zealand
New Zealand is a wonderful country with breathtaking nature and rich culture that more and more people are learning about in recent years. However, it’s not enough to just browse a few articles and call it a day. In order to truly understand the essence of this country and the heritage of its people, you have to delve deeper into its past and learn about its indigenous people, the
Maori Culture of New Zealand..
I’m lucky enough to have been to New Zealand a couple of times and have met some of these people, and also have learned a lot through these experiences. So, if you too are interested in getting to know the Maori Culture of New Zealand and their culture, here is what you need to know.
The origins of the native inhabitants of New Zealand
The Maori are settlers from Polynesia whose arrival in New Zealand dates back as far as the 14th century, or possibly even earlier. They came from East Polynesia on waka (a type of ocean canoe) voyages through a planned mass migration spanning from around 1320 to 1350. They settled down and spent the next few centuries in isolation, which is the reason why their language, crafts and all other aspects of their culture developed independently from other Polynesian cultures and became so unique and distinct.
The arrival of the Europeans later (first in the 17th and then in the 19th century, when they settled down) brought radical changes to the Maori’s lives – while initial contact was less than friendly, the unknown diseases brought in by the settlers proved even more problematic. By the end of the 19th century, the numbers of the Maori were greatly declining, however, they managed to recover throughout the 20th century and in the second half of the century, they even went through a cultural revival and have evolved into Maori Culture of New Zealand that is known today.
Maori Culture of New Zealand
When talking about Maori culture, one thing that we can all agree on is that it’s very vibrant. Maori’s performing arts are something you cannot compare to anything else in the world, and the only way to understand it is by experiencing a kapa haka yourself.
Since it’s very popular even today, with many schools and other institutions also having kapa haka groups, you won’t have to look very hard to catch a performance.
The Maori have many myths and legends some of which you will certainly hear as you travel through New Zealand, but don’t be afraid to ask either – they will be happy to share stories about the land and their beliefs. When it comes to the language, while it was declining in the past century, today it is flourishing once again and you will find that you can hear certain Maori phrases and sayings even in conversations with kiwis.
Where Maoris live and where to see their culture
The first settlements of Maori were in Northland and the East Cape. The Northland area is also the largest Maori iwi, with centers such as Hokianga, Bay of Islands and Whangarei. All of these places are beautiful areas, which will deepen your experience even more. Hokianga Harbour is actually the very place the first Maori people landed, so it is a great idea to start your journey at a place so significant to these people.
There are many more places throughout the country where you can come in contact with Maori culture. A bit more south than Hokianga, Rotorua is also an amazing place to get to know Maori culture. It is often said to be the “center” of Maori culture with a still-living village called Ohinemutu. You will receive a very warm welcome, so it’s worth staying in Rotorua for a few days and exploring all the invaluable art in the museums as well as getting close to the culture at places like Te Puia and Tamaki Village.
And you can even take your adventure to the South Island like I did, as cities such as Dunedin have great Maori heritage to show off. Tours such as Back to Nature Tours can help you see all of that. Alternatively, you can also explore Christchurch as it also offers several cultural experiences such as Ko Tane in Willowbank.
All in all, no matter where you go in New Zealand, you will come across Maori culture. However, if you are truly interested in getting to know it, it’s worth delving deeper and going to places where you will be able to experience this amazing culture.
I am Arlette Green a blogger into traveling and moving to the farthest places to explore the world and myself as well. I usually start blogging after I return from my self-planned tours to share my experiences and insights gained throughout the trip.
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