Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Introduction To Maori People of New Zealand

The Maori are the native or indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand (Aotearoa The Long White Cloud). They arrived in New Zealand from eastern Polynesia in several waves at some time before 1300 CE. Over several centuries in isolation, the Maori developed a unique culture with their own language, a rich mythology, distinctive crafts and performing arts. They formed a tribal society based on East Polynesian social customs and organisation. Horticulture flourished using plants they introduced, and after about 1450 a prominent warrior culture emerged.

Maori people define themselves by their iwi (tribe), hapu (sub-tribe), maunga (mountain) and awa (river). Whanau is the name given to family the term embraces immediate family, in-laws and all those connected by blood ties.In recent years, the introduction of Maori language nests (kohanga reo) has revived the Maori language. At kohanga reo, preschool children are encouraged to speak in Maori. Primary and secondary schools build on this early immersion by including Maori in the curriculum.              

The Maori language lost its role as a living community language (used by significant numbers of people) in the post war years. In tandem with calls for sovereignty and the righting of social injustices from the 1970s onwards, many New Zealand schools now teach Maori culture tourism and language, and pre-school kohanga reo (literally: "language nests") have started which teach tamariki (young children) exclusively in maori. These now extend right through secondary schools (kura tuarua).

The POI was used, many years ago, by the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand to increase their flexibility and strength in their hands and arms as well as improving coordination.Wahine (female) dancers perform the Maori POI, a dance performed with balls attached to flax strings, swung rhythmically. Those pictured to the right are using short POI.The POI dance was originally used by the Maori women for keeping their hands flexible for weaving and by the men for strength and coordination required during battle. POI are also used as a training aid for other ancient weapons like the Mere or Patu (Short club).

The New Zealand Wars pitched the might of the British Empire and a number of Maori tribes that remained loyal to the crown against the majority of the Maori people. Through the use of ingenious tactics and innovative fortifications the Maori side was able to withstand the attacks for many years before eventually succumbing to the British side's main unmatchable advantage, its vast numerical advantage.

Maori people often use the term Tangata whenua (literally, "people of the land") to describe themselves in a way that emphasises their relationship with a particular area of land a tribe may be tangata whenua in one area, but not another. The term can also refer to Maori as a whole in relation to New Zealand (Aotearoa) as a whole.

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