Today, New Zealand Maori people account for around 14% of the national
population, and their culture and language have an enormous impact on
every day life in New Zealand.
Where It All Started-The Creation Of New Zealand
According to Maori tradition, New Zealand was created by the god Maui. Maori legend has it that Maui, while fishing, hooked up the North Island (known as Te Ika a Maui, or the fish of Maui). Maori describe the South Island as Maui's waka (canoe) and Stewart Island (known as Rakiura) as Maui's punga (anchor). The New Zealand Maori believe the far north of the North Island to be the tail of the fish, and Wellington Harbour the mouth.
The culture of the New Zealand Maori people is varied and unique, and is expressed in many ways, such as arts, weaving, tattoo (moko), carving (here is a short video that talks about greenstone carvings),
and group performances. Today, New Zealand Maori people reproduce many
of the techniques used for centuries by their ancestors (tipuna), but
also use many modern forms of expression such as film and television,
theatre, and even hip hop music.
How Do You Pronounce Those Names??
The language of the New Zealand Maori people, known as Te Reo Maori, is actually a very structured one, and you will notice that most place names have a New Zealand Maori origin.
The language consists of five vowel sounds: a,e,i,o,u (the "a" as in "car", the "e" as in "egg", the "i" like the "ee" in "tee", the "o" as in "four", and the "u" like an "o" in "to".
There are also eight consonants similar to those in English-"h", "k", "m", "n", "p", "r", "t" and "w". In addition are two special consonants, "wh" and "ng". The "wh" sound is pronounced like the English "f", and the "ng" is like the "ng" in "sing". Words can also begin with "ng".
So, for example, the location Whakatane, is pronounced "fa-ca-ta-ne".
Some common New Zealand Maori words and phrases:
Kia ora tatou-Hello everyone
Tena koe-Greetings to you
Tena koutou-Greetings to you all
Kei te pehea koe?-How's it going?
Kei te pai-Good
Tino pai-Really good
Ka kite ano-Until I see you again (Bye)
Hei konei ra-See you later
To learn more about some common Maori words and phrases and to hear them, the following link will take you to the New Zealand Government website, NZ History.
New Zealand Maori Protocol
As tribal Polynesian people, New Zealand Maori have a unique protocol, best witnessed at a marae (Maori meeting place).
The formal welcome is known as a powhiri. The powhiri begins with a wero (challenge) by a warrior from the tangata whenua (hosts), to the manuhiri (guests). The warrior may carry a taiaha (spear), and will then lay down a token (often a small branch) that the manuhiri will pick up to show that they come in peace. Some kuia (women) from the hosts will perform a karanga (call/chant) to the guests. Women from the manuhiri will then respond as they move onto the marae in front of their men.
Once inside the wharenui (meeting house) on the marae, mihimihi (greetings) and whaikorero (speeches) are made. Waiata (songs) may also be sung. It is also normal for the manuhiri (guests) to present a koha (gift) to the tangata whenua after greeting the hosts with a hongi-the ceremonial touching of noses. After the powhiri, kai (food) may be shared.
Click here to read your free 18 page booklet "Introduction To Maori Culture" in your browser, or right-click to download it.
Our thanks to newzealand.com for some of the information and photos on the New Zealand Maori people.