The Māori
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The Māori

Oceanic settlers

Oceanic settlers

Summon yourself to New Zealand’s indigenous and ancient culture, rich in legend and inspiration.

While the Māori no longer live as they once did, having merged with modern life, they do still practice their traditions and invite you to join them.


  • Region is Australia

  • Climate here is Mild



When the Europeans arrived on the shores of New Zealand, the lives of the Māori were changed forever. No longer do they live as they once did, in tribal villages, surviving off the land. Instead they have merged with modern life. But many of their traditions still flourish and have become an integral part of New Zealand society.


Māori have long lived upon the wild and exotic land of Aotearoa. Though you may know her by her English name; New Zealand. Archeologists talk of two Māori branches, the archaic and the traditional. The former the original inhabitants of Aotearoa while the latter are thought to have migrated there in the 14th century.


Social Structure

Divided across the island into Iwi (tribal groups) and Hapu (family sub-groups). The Māori would inter-marry across Iwi to build and strengthen alliances.


Mostly Christian today. Before contact with outside cultures, Māori religion was based on two core concepts. Mana, an individual force that can be acquired or inherited. Tapu, a sacredness assigned by status at birth.


Powerful pieces of culture have maintained a lasting existence. And you can still witness Māori practice these incredible traditions. Maoris still wear traditional clothing for special occasions. Maori clothing was some of the most elaborate in Polynesia. Intricately decorated cloaks were an important item of dress for individuals of high status within Maori society.

Tattooing was highly developed and extremely symbolic. Maori facial tattoos were created by piercing and pigmenting the skin with a tattooing comb; or by creating permanent grooves in the face with a chisel-like instrument.

The haka dances: these dances are accompanied by song and body percussion created by clapping hands, stomping feet, and slapping thighs. The dance itself involves energetic postures representing warlike and aggressive poses.

Maori chanting follows very strict rules for performance, rhythmic structure, and continuity. To break a chant in midstream is to invite disaster or even death for a community.


Te reo is one of the few tribal languages in the world to be recognised as the official national language in its country.


Intricate carving is a great skill of the Māori. You can see it best in the whare whakairo (traditional meeting house) which is decorated elaborately with images of ancestors and gods. The Māori are also expert weavers, using and understanding the advantages of over 50 varieties of New Zealand flax.


Māori festivals are rich with song and dance. Many special days have become integrated with New Zealand society as a whole and are celebrated in various forms around the country.

Powhiri: Traditional welcome ceremonies bring visitors to the meeting grounds of the Maori community.

Matariki: the Maori New Year, is rich with tradition. Matariki is officially celebrated in June.

Waitangi Day: 6 February - New Zealand's national holiday held to commemorate the signing of New Zealand's founding document in 1840. Māori cultural performances, speeches from Māori and Pakeha (European)
dignitaries, and a naval salute are all part of the annual activities at Waitangi.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

Never put bags or hats on any surface you would also put food on. Māori grow-up believing this is bad, a belief that comes from an ancestral aversion of mixing sacred and normal energies.

You must always take your shoes off before entering a Māori meeting house.

Never break a chant midstream. To do so is to invite disaster or even death to a community.

Photo credit: Mount Taranaki Vlnas

Photos licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license:
Maori Waka / JSilver
Maori warrior / Shiny Things
Maori Singing 2 / RaviGogna

Photo credit: Te Papaiouru Marae

Photo credit: Maori carving