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Māori people's history, culture, and customs in New Zealand


The Māori people of New Zealand have a rich culture and history that goes back centuries. They are descended from the indigenous Polynesian people who first arrived in the islands of New Zealand from their ancestral homelands in the South Pacific.

The pre-European Māori culture was primarily oral, so most of their history was passed down through generations by oral transmission. An early form of the Māori language, te reo Māori, was used to communicate among the various tribes. The Māori were originally concentrated in the eastern and northern parts of New Zealand, although they eventually spread throughout the islands.

The Māori society contained a hierarchical structure with chiefs ruling over different sections or ‘iwi’ of the larger tribal groups. These chiefs were often held in high regard and could be divided into two important categories: rangatira, who had a traditional role as leaders of men; and tohunga, who had a specialist role as healers and advisors. Due to their isolation, the Māori were able to develop a distinct culture and lifestyle that was strong and independent. Traditional Māori culture revolved around the concept of Tapu, which means separation and sanctity. This concept permeated many aspects of life for Māori, such as respect for elders, the spiritual importance of land, and the separation of women and men.

The Māori’s identity is deeply tied to the land and waters of New Zealand, and they often viewed themselves as part of nature rather than separate from it. This is reflected in the traditional practices of hunting, fishing, and gathering, as well as rituals and ceremonies such as the Māori haka, or war dance. The Māori also possess highly developed traditional art forms, including weaving and woodcarving. Māori wood carvings were often used as decorative objects but were also used to tell stories and to record important events. Māori weaving was used to create cloaks, mats, and other items.

The Māori people have had a rich and complex culture for centuries, and today that culture still remains largely intact. This is due in part to the fact that the Māori kept much of their culture alive through the oral tradition, and by remaining close to the land and waters that have been their home for so many generations. Much of traditional Māori culture, such as art, language, and music can be found and appreciated in New Zealand today.


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