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Maori Culture


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Title: Maori Culture

Maori Culture
By Jennifer Baker, Emily Bruce, Céleste Gagnon,
Samantha Gardiner, Aubrie Graham, Katie Otter,
Bonnie Palmateer, and Lori Simeone.
The Maori
  • The Maori people are the indigenous people of New
  • Maoritanga is the native language which is
    related to Tahitian and Hawaiian.
  • The present Maori population has increased to
    about 250,000 and the Maori live in all parts of
    New Zealand, but predominately in the North
    Island where the climate is warmer.
  • The Maori have adapted well to living in 21st
    century New Zealand, yet they have retained their
    unique culture, and this rich culture contributes
    much to New Zealand as a whole.

Population Distribution
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Maori Demographics
  • They are Polynesian and comprise about 15 of
    the country's population.
  • 1 in 7 people are of Maori ethnicity
  • The median age of the population is 22, in 1997
    it was 20
  • 90 of the Maori people live in the North island

History and Background
  • It is believed that the Maori migrated from
    Polynesia in canoes about the 9th century to 13th
    century AD.
  • Dutch navigator Abel Tasman was the first
    European to encounter the Maori. Four members of
    his crew were killed in a bloody encounter in
  • In 1769 British explorer James Cook established
    friendly relations with some Maori. By 1800,
    visits by European ships were relatively
  • At this time, the Maori population was severely
    reduced with the arrival of European settlers.
    War disease took their toll till eventually the
    population dropped to about 100,000.

Maori and the Land
  • In 1840 representatives of Britain and Maori
    chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi. This treaty
    established British rule, granted the Maori
    British citizenship, and recognized Maori land
  • 1860s brought Maori land wars
  • 1890s a parliamentary government was commenced
    establishing democratic lines
  • Maori eventually regained their numbers in their
    population through intermarriages and such
  • Today many of the treaty's provisions are
    disputed and there has been an effort from the
    New Zealand government to recompense Maori Tribes
    for some land that was illegally confiscated.

Maori and Politics
  • The first Maori inhabitants of New Zealand are
    now a minority
  • In 1985 the government amendment the treaty of
  • In 1988 the government created the Treaty of
    Waitangi Act
  • Te Ture Whenua Maori Act

Maori People and Culture
  • Numbers
  • In 2001 Maori comprised approximately 15
    (526,281 people) of New Zealands population.
    This figure is forecast to reach 16.6 (750,000)
    in 2021.
  • Location
  • In 2004 the Maori people were more diverse and
    dispersed than at any other time in their
    history. Some continued to live in their
    traditional tribal areas. Most, however, lived
    elsewhere, usually in urban centres. In 2001, 64
    of Maori were living in the main urban areas, and
    only 16 in rural areas. Many also lived in other
    countries, with over 70,000 in Australia and up
    to 10,000 in Britain.        

Maori People and Culture
  • Culture
  • The Maori culture is going through enormous
    change, with the establishment of new
    institutions and organizations.
  • These include
  • The creation of institutions where teaching and
    learning is conducted substantially in the Maori
    language. In 2001 there were over 500 kohanga reo
    (language nests), teaching over 10,000 preschool
    children over 50 kura kaupapa Maori (teaching
    schoolchildren in full Maori-language immersion
    programmes) and three whare wananga (tertiary

Maori People and Culture
  • Culture Continued
  • The rearrangement and strengthening of tribal
    structures and councils
  • The recapitalization of tribally owned assets
  • The establishment of over 20 Maori radio stations
    and a television channel
  • Political representation, with 16 MPs of Maori
    background in Parliament in 2004.

Maori People and Culture
  • Language
  • The Maori language is an official language of
    New Zealand, and in recent years has undergone a
    revival. However, it is still threatened and,
    according to the 2001 census results, was spoken
    by only one in four Maori. Approximately 30,000
    non-Maori could speak the language.
  • Prominent People
  • In early 2000 a number of Maori individuals were
    regarded as major national figures or had
    international reputations in their chosen fields.
    Among them were the opera singer Dame Kiri Te
    Kanawa, film director Lee Tamahori, child actor
    Keisha Castle-Hughes, golfer Michael Campbell,
    artist Ralph Hotere, and writers Patricia Grace
    and Witi Ihimaera.

  • The vast majority of place names are of Maori
    origin. Maori has a logical structure and unlike
    English, has very consistent rules of
  • Maori consists of five vowel sounds a e i o u
    ('a' as in 'car', 'e' as in 'egg', 'i' like the
    'ee' in 'tee', 'u' like an 'o' in 'to').
  • There are eight consonants in Maori similar to
    those in English - 'h', 'k', 'm', 'n', 'p', 'r',
    't', and 'w'.
  • There are also two different consonants - 'wh'
    and 'ng'. Many Maori pronounce the 'wh' sound
    similar to our 'f'. The 'ng' is similar to our
    own 'ng' sound in a word like 'sing', except that
    in Maori, words can start with 'ng'.

Maori Greetings
  • Tena koe hello (one person)
  • Tena Korua hello (to two people)
  • Hei Konei or Kei Knoa Bye
  • Kei te peblea koe How are you? (Southern
  • Pehea ana How are you (northern dialect)
  • Pai ahw Im well (northern dialect)
  • Maori language day is celebrated annually in the
    last week of July.

The traditional Maori welcome is called a
powhiri, this involves a hongi which is a
greeting that involves pressing noses as opposed
to a kiss.
The Maori Family
  • In the early 19th century, when British settlers
    arrived, the Maori people were living with their
    extended families in tribal groups.
  • The land was owned by tribes and sub-tribes,
    rather than individuals.
  • Since then, there have been many changes and
    challenges for the typical Maori family.
  • Today most Maori people live in family units
  • 82.4 of Maori people live in a family situation
  • Extended families are still common.
  • Extended families typically consist of
    grandparents, children, and grandchildren.
  • Relatives (called whanau) are very important.

Family Roles
  • Long ago, males and females had both significant
    roles in the Maori culture.
  • Males were responsible for speaking to the tribe
    and even today, many elders still believe this
    should continue.
  • The roles of both males and females have changed
    over the years.
  • Some Maori women hold jobs outside the home.
  • There is a greater incidence of domestic
    violence among Maori compared to non-Maori people
    in New Zealand.

View of Elders
  • Traditionally elders were viewed with respect and
    held positions of authority.
  • Today the Maori continue to have a very positive
    attitude toward aging and the elderly.
  • Older people (called kaumatua) are considered
    wise and experienced, and their opinions are
  • Maori ancestry and age are of much greater
    importance than professional status.
  • To some more elderly and conservative Maori the
    male head of family of a female prime minister
    would have the greater status and right to be
    heard first.
  • The approach is often more flexible now and
    doctors, priests and even senior politicians are
    accorded additional rank over age alone.
  • Powers of oratory are also recognized and can
    overcome many of the limitation of age or

Tapu (Conduct/Basic Beliefs)
  • Tapu was one of the strongest forces in Maori
    life and had numerous meanings and references.
  • Tapu can be interpreted as "sacred", and contains
    a strong imposition of rules and prohibitions.
    Certain people and objects contain mana-
    spiritual power or essence therefore a person,
    object or place, which is mana and considered
    tapu, may not be touched or even in some cases
  • For example, in earlier times, tribal members of
    a higher rank would not touch objects which
    belonged to members of a lower rank. Similarly,
    persons of a lower rank could not touch the
    belongings of a highborn person.
  • Certain objects were particularly tapu, so much
    so that it was a dangerous act to even touch
    them, apart from suitably qualified priests. A
    breach of tapu could incur the wrath of the Gods
    and death was the penalty for serious

Noa (Conduct/Basic Beliefs) Continued)
  • Noa, on the other hand, is the opposite to tapu
    and includes the concept of common.
  • Noa also has the concept of a blessing in that it
    can lift the rules and prohibitions of tapu.

Traditional/Historical Rituals for Barren Women
  • A rite, known as whakato tamariki, translated as
    child implanting was performed by priests.
  • The priest asked which sex was desired by the
    parents, then procured a leaf which he cut into
    the outline of a human figure. He then conducted
    the woman to a tapu place and bade her lie down
    on a mat.
  • A purification ritual followed in order to
    remove all evil and harmful influences.

Traditional/Historical Barren Rituals Continued
  • The priest then intoned an invocation to Io the
    Supreme One, asking him to endow the woman with
    the powers of the Earth Formed Maid, the power to
    produce children.
  • He then places the leaf image on the body of the
    woman, just above the navel.
  • The next act is the lifting of the tapu from
    them both, after which the woman is free to
    return to her home.
  • The priest preserved the leaf image, which was
    afterwards placed under her pillow when she was
    about to confined.
  • A less ritualized processed was piki whenua, a
    woman stands over a birth site in hopes of
    becoming fertile.

Childbearing Beliefs
  • Goddesses presiding over birth were
    Hina-te-iwaiwa or Hine-te-iwaiwa, and
  • The first-born male and female child is highly
    honoured. Later-born sons and daughters were not.
  • In the case of a high-born woman, laborious work
    would not be expected of her when it was known
    that she was with child.
  • During pregnancy, if a woman developed a desire
    for any particular food, it was said that the
    child craved it, and that food was called a
    whakawaiu, a producer of milk.
  • The Maori believed that the unborn child
    receives sustenance from the mother through the
    fontanelles, or rua kai (food apertures).
  • Sometimes a pregnant woman was not allowed to
    have her hair cut because it might stunt the
    childs growth in utero.

More Childbearing Beliefs
  • If the dark parts of a woman's breasts are
    large, then the child is considered to be female,
    it is the reverse for a male child. Also, if a
    woman has a flushed face then the child is a
  • A male child is never born during an easterly or
    northerly wind, and a female child during a
    southerly or westerly one.
  • The Maori do not like to see an infant held much
    or frequently by people other than its parents.
  • If a first-born child died in infancy the
    parents would get a priest to perform the Tuora
    rite over the next child born, so as to preserve
    its life.
  • Cases of premature birth were supposed to have
    been brought about by the mother having infringed
    some law of tapu.

Birth Process
  • Childbirth could not take place within the
    ordinary dwelling house, it was considered tapu.
  • During the last few weeks of her pregnancy, a
    pregnant woman who was said to be tapu was
    segregated from the community and gave birth
    either in the open or in a temporary shelter
    which was erected for the purpose and later
    burnt. This was called the whare kohanga,
    literally, the nest house. It was only usually
    built for high-ranking women and only for their
    first delivery.
  • Karakia (prayers) to Hineteiwaiwa, were recited
    to ease the pain during birth. The karakia would
    differ depending on whether the labour was going
    normally or was particularly difficult.
  • The iho (cord) was cut with a chip of obsidian,
    tied with flax fibre and the stump rubbed with
    titoki oil before being bandaged. The whenua
    (placenta) was taken away by the mother's mother,
    aunt or other close relative to be buried in a
    secret place. When the dried naval cord
    eventually came away, it too was hidden.

Tua/Tohi Ritual
  • The most important ceremony occurred when the
    iho (umbilical chord) falls off. resembled a
    traditional Christian baptism.
  • The object of which was not so much the naming
    of the child as its dedication to the and placed
    in their care. It is also a purificatory ritual
    one, intended to remove the tapu pertaining to
  • Speeches were given by the relatives and both
    parents welcoming the newborn child into the
    world. A sort of baptism took place in a river.
  • The two most important charms recited over the
    child during the ritual were known as the Tua of
    Tu and Tua of Rongo. The former was connected
    with the art of war, while the latter was for the
    purpose of endowing the child with energy and
    ability in the arts of peace.
  • The child might be given a tapu name at birth,
    if of a high-class family, but this name was
    discarded at or after the Tua rite, and a new one
    was then given tothe infant. The first name is
    described as an ingoa whakaii or ingoa whakarare.

Maori View of Time
  • The Maori cultural concept of time is also
    different from the frequent western
  • As a part of the Maori belief system, time is
    considered to be a circular process.
  • The traditional Maori notions of time are
    highly localized, in the sense that it differs
    from region to region, family to family. It is
    not possible to define one composite singular
    Maori perspective of time, just as it is
    impossible to isolate and identify absolute
    agreement on any universal truth from any
  • This is very much a part of their concept of
    whakapapa, which can be loosely translated as
    family tree, but is much more complicated than
    our notion of a family tree.
  • Everything in the universe is connected in
    whakapapa, and this lends itself to a heightened
    feeling of connection between the past present
    and future.

  • Whakapapa is strictly the actual recital of
    genealogy, and a genealogical stave is used when
    the whakapapa recital is taking place.
  • These are wooden sticks, called whakapapa rakau,
    with knobs running down the shaft. The knobs on
    the genealogical stave serve to help the memory
    when a person is reciting the whakapapa, the
    knobs representing the different ancestry.
  • A genealogical stave may count up to 18
    successive generations in its carvings, and most
    original whakapapa rakau averaged over a meter in
  • The whakapapa is also often retold in intricate
    carvings on the Whare (the meeting house on the
    Marae) paying tribute to the ancestors.

Maori View of Time
  • Decisions made by those in charge were heavily
    affected by considerations for future
    generations. Those in the present considered
    themselves as stewards of resources for future
  • Concept of time is not fixed and is subject to
    constant amendment and modification. There is a
    constant move in between past and present. The
    cycle of traditions about the people, land, and
    events is dynamic and fluid.
  • A way of describing how they see time is like a
    thread in something woven, it starts, stops,
    interacts with other threads in the woven
    material, and can be picked up again later. All
    of it complements each other to help build
    something large and tangible.

Maori View of Space
  • Maori people tend to use minimal eye contact as
    it is a form of respect in their culture. It
    shows that the individual has respect for other
    peoples individual or personal space in formal
    situations. This is said to be very important
    when individuals are visiting another
    individuals home.
  • Maori people also think that invading the space
    of ones head by stepping over it, is rude and
    they feel as though the individual who stepped
    over the other individuals head is invading or
    taking over their power, showing them no respect.
    It is bad for their mana (personal
  • Therefore personal space in the Maori people is
    very important and even though it may not be that
    way in our culture, it is very important to
    consider it when interacting with the Maori

Features of the Maori People
A prominent feature of Maori culture are the
striking tattoos that were worn. Full faced
tattoos or moko, amongst the Maori tribes was
predominantly a male activity. Female forms of
moko were restricted to the chin area, the upper
lip, and the nostrils.
Ta Moko represents a history of a person's
achievements and represented their status in
their tribe. It was like a resumé. It also served
as a reminder to people about their
responsibility in life. It was a huge honour for
people to have Ta Moko. There were no set
patterns to the Ta Moko and the meaning of the Ta
Moko was dependent on its placement on the face.
The left side of the face related to the father's
history and the right side to the mother's
history. Occasionally women would put small
markings over their faces or shoulders as a sign
that someone close to them had died.
Origin of Ta Moko
Originally, Ta Moko was chiseled into the skin
using an albatross bone. The pigmentations used
were Carui gum and dye from other vegetation that
was rendered to a soot and then mixed with oil.
Each tribal area used different pigments.
Traditional Dress
  • The Maori made their clothes out of flax. Both
    Maori men and women wore much the same sort of
  • Men wore a type of kilt around their waists the
    Maori, secured by a belt. Over their shoulders
    they threw a rectangular-shaped cape. Men wore
    their hair long. It was tied into, a knot on the
    top of the head and adorned with feathers or with
    a comb of bone or wood.
  • Women and girls sometimes added a kind of apron
    round their waist. Women, cut their hair short.
  • Both sexes wore neck or ear pendants of
    greenstone, human or sharks teeth, and bunches
    of feathers.
  • Children usually did without any clothing until
    they were about ten years old.
  • A headband kept feathers in place for dress
  • Sandals covered the feet only as a protection
    against the cold or when walking over rough stony

Traditional Dress
The Haka/ Traditional Dance
  • To most people, the haka is perceived as a war
    dance. The haka is performed as a pre-battle
    challenge to opposition.
  • The word haka simply means a dance, or a song
    accompanied by dance. The terms do not do justice
    to the life force, the actions, words, rhythm,
    themes, meaning, style or history that are the
  • In early contact times, the haka was used as a
    part of the formal process when two parties came
    together. There was a challenge from the tangata
    whenua or tribe in their own territory, followed
    by a response from the manuhiri or visiting
    party.The encounter concluded with a tangata
    whenua performing a haka peruperu. The visitors
    would then respond with their own haka. Following
    speeches by both parties, they each moved
    together to hongi, the traditional greeting of
    pressing noses.
  • It is now mostly reserved for special occasions
    such as visits by senior dignitaries. The
    principles that underpin the traditional rituals
    are still retained in a modern form.

Traditional Dance
Maori Religious Views
  • The Maori believe that in the beginning, man
    began through an offering by their god Tane, in
    which all mankind was offered three baskets of
    knowledge called Nga Kete-o-te-Wananga. Within
    these baskets were the stories of creation,
    instructions concerning magic, and so on.
  • The Maori believe that all living things are
    descended from the gods, embodied within certain
    mountains, rivers and lakes. All things have a
    type of soul in which they label the Wairua.
  • Most things contain mana - spiritual essence.
    Mana is within man himself, land, nature, and
    also man-made objects. Contact with mana
    contained objects or beings by non-authorized
    persons or objects could cause the mana to be
    drained away.
  • Extremely strict rules of tapu protected
    ceremonial objects, much filled with mana.

Beginning of Creation
  • The Maori people are polytheistic because they
    worship multiple gods although they believe in
    one supreme god that controls all the other
    gods. They call this god Io.
  • The power of Io moved amongst the elements of
    chaos, and from chaos came eons of darkness, from
    which light was emitted. From these forms of
    energy, light and darkness, evolved Ranginui (Sky
    Father) and Papatuanuku (Earth Mother).
  • The power of the real God is manifested as
    sound, celestial music, so He is said to have
    sung the Creation into existence.
  • Ranginui lay with Papatuanuku and their children
    became the gods of this world. When they were
    released, they were responsible for the creation
    of the universe the planets, stars, the sun, and
    every living thing on the earth, including

Maori Gods
  • The children of Ranginui and Papatuanuku were
  • Tangaroa, god of the sea, lakes and rivers with
    dominion over all the creatures that live in
    them. Tangaroa possesses several gifts, chief of
    this being the art of carving.
  • Tane, the god of forests and its inhabitants,
    especially the birds.
  • Tawhirimatea, god of the winds, storms and
  • Rongomatane, the god of kumara and all
    cultivated foods. He is also the god of peace.
  • Haumia, god of fernroot and nutritious wild
  • Ruaumoko, god of volcanoes and earthquakes.
  • Tumatauenga, god of man and war.
  • Whiro, god of evil.

Maori God Tangaroa
  • Tangaroa is the sea god who separated the sky
    from the earth. He is a son the earth-goddess
    Papatuanuku, who had so much water in her body
    that it swelled one day and burst forth, becoming
    the ocean.
  • He may appear as a huge fish giving birth to all
    the sea creatures, including mermen and mermaids.
    From the latter sprang humanity, according to
    certain myths, so people are really fish who have
    lost their fish-like appearance.
  • Others say also that human beings were once
    aquatic, hence their hairlessness. Tangaroa
    changes regularly into a green lizard, signifying
    fine weather.
  • He only needs to breath once in 24 hours, so huge
    is he (this breathing explains the tidal

Maori God Whiro
  • Whiro is the lizard-god of the dead, evil and
    darkness. He lives in the dark misty underworld
    and is accompanied by a group of evil spirits.
  • He inspires evil thoughts in the minds of people.

  • Maori gods were sometimes represented by carved
    godsticks bound with cord.
  • A godstick was frequently used in the ritual acts
    sanctifying the planting, tending and harvesting
    of sweet potato.

  • In New Zealand, however, tiki (full name is
    hei-tiki) is usually applied to the human figure
    carved in pounamu (greenstone, a stone similar to
    jade) as a neck ornament, but can be made from
    whale bone or teeth.
  • They are highly valued treasures to their owners.
    Some individual tiki have names and traditional
    histories extending well back into the past.
  • Tiki are worn around the neck - the hei part of
    the name carries this implication
  • Significance of these ornaments has been lost,
    however it has been suggested that this ornament
    is a fertility charm representing the human
    embryo, and that it should be worn only by women
    yet early European visitors saw men wearing the
    hei-tiki and it is probable that the squat shape
    of the figure was influenced by the hardness of
    the material and that it was later likened to an

Tikis Continued
  • Suspension is usually vertical but some are
    suspended on their side.
  • There is some variety in the forms of tiki but
    this variation has not been very fully studied in
    relation to region of origin. The head inclined
    left or right appears to have no particular
    significance. One clear variation is between tiki
    with the head upright and those with the head
    tilted sideways. The likely explanation for the
    latter form is that it comes naturally from the
    use of rectangular adze blades as raw material.
    Other variations occur in the positions of the
    arms. In some the arms are asymmetric with one
    arm on the torso rather than the legs, or up to
    the mouth.

  • The Marae is absolutely central to the Maori way
    of life.
  • It is a focal point for groups who share kinship.
    Here they can meet to discuss and debate, to
    celebrate, to welcome the living and bid farewell
    to those that have passed on.
  • It is the open space and buildings in a
    settlement or pa (fortified settlement) where the
    community gathered.
  • There are over one thousand Marae throughout
    Aotearoa in rural areas and in cities.

  • Usually facing the principal entrance to the
    Marae is the Whare. The Whare is nearly always
    situated, as in the past, between the Marae and
    the gateway.
  • The Whare may be referred to in a number of ways
    the whare tipuna or whare tupuna, (ancestral
    house) whare whakairo (carved house), whare nui
    (large house), whare hui (meeting house), whare
    moe or whare puni (sleeping house) or whare
    runanga (council house).
  • The whare is used for funerals, religious
    meetings, or entertaining visitor.
  • No members of the local tribal community live
    permanently in a whare.
  • Apart from rare exceptions, the whare is nearly
    always named after an ancestor.
  • The Whare is usually symbolically designed to
    represent the chief and embody his ancestors.

Whare Continued
  • Outside, in front of the whare and at its top is
    a tekoteko, or carved figure, which is placed on
    the roof and at the entrance to the whare. The
    tekoteko represents the ancestor's head.
  • The maihi or carved parts of the tekoteko, which
    slope downwards from the whare, represent the
    ancestor's arms- held out as a welcome to
  • The pole which runs down the centre of the whare
    from front to back represents the ancestor's
    backbone. This is a very solid piece of wood
    which is used. If the backbone is strong, the
    body is strong.
  • The rafters from the carved figures on the inside
    of the whare represent the ribs of the ancestor.
  • The smaller and larger Koruru carvings may be
    seen on the outside of the whare. The protruding
    tongue often seen is in defiance of the enemy.
    The glittering eyes of the Koruru are paua shells
    (abalone shellfish). The eyes of the Koruru
    represent the Ruru, the Maori name for the New
    Zealand native owl, a fierce fighter bird.

The Meaning of Food
  • Kai (food) has always been an important part of
    the Maori way of life.
  • Kai connects men and women to
  • the spiritual realm through the gods
  • the earth, and all the elements including the
  • the "other" men and women, as it is grown,
    harvested, traded, and eventually shared.
  • themselves as it sustains and nurtures.
  • Specialized knowledge and skills surround all
    aspects of Kai. The holders of that knowledge
    were not only revered but were charged with the
    responsibility of passing that knowledge and
    skill on to others.

Cookery and Preparation
  • Before the arrival of Pakeha (fair skinned
    people), Maori had no metal or ceramic cooking
  • Methods of cooking were severely limited and the
    only containers to hold liquid were Hue (gourds),
    wooden bowls, or vessels made from stone.
  • Maori understood the perfection of wet steam
    smoke and could roast and bake in the open fire
    or hot ashes.
  • Their diet was light on protein and included no
    grain-food products as a carbohydrate base for

Cookery and Preparation Continued
  • Food is often cooked in a hole dug in the ground,
    in a traditional style known as a Hangi (earth
  • With this method, the food is placed on hot
    stones that have been heated in a fire and are
    covered in cabbage leaves or watercress to stop
    the food from burning.
  • Mutton, pork, chicken, potatoes, and Kumera (a
    sweet potato) are then lowered into the pit in a
    basket. The food is covered with Mutton cloth and
  • Finally earth is placed on top to keep in the
    steam. The food takes about 3 hours to cook.

Hangi Pictures
Evolution of Preparation
  • Maori were very highly skilled in the art of
    hunting, fishing, gathering, and cultivation, and
    possessed great ingenuity in creating Hakari
    (Banquets) from limited cooking resources.
  • With the introduction of foreign foods and
    cooking equipment, Maori were quick to adapt to
    the ever changing needs of every day living
    taking into consideration the wisdom to cherish
    and retain many foods and culinary methods of the
  • Yet within these limitations their cuisine was
    wide ranging, nutritious, and appetizing. When
    the Pakeha introduced different foods and
    equipment, Maori were quick to grasp their
  • During the colonial era, Maori learned to use
    European foods and methods, and to adapt them to
    their own tastes.
  • But at the same time retaining many of their
    favorite early methods such as smoking, drying,
    and steaming.

Significant Foods and Herbs
  • Maori people gathered food from the forest,
    stream, sea, and garden.
  • Their diet was traditionally birds and fish
    together with gathered wild herbs and roots.
    Gardens grew root crops including potato and
  • Maori herbs are used that are mixed with
    traditional herbs and indigenous foods into
    contemporary cuisine.
  • This includes delicacies such as kuku patties
    (made with distinctive green mussels), puha
    greens or salmon flavoured manuka (New Zealand
    tea tree) honey, kelp and horopito leaves.
  • Maori potatoes of the taewa tutaekuri variety
    are unusual purple potatoes which were among the
    winners of the Slow Food 2000 awards that
    promotes the preservation of biodiversity.

Significant Foods and Herbs
  • Rewena pararoa (Maori bread), is potato bread
    which is sold at weekend markets and some
    specialty bread shops.
  • On Stewart Island, Maori continue to harvest the
    mutton bird. The bird has a very distinct flavor
    and is an acquired taste.
  • Eel and puha (green leafy vegetables grown in
    streams) are also foods that are traditionally
    gathered by Maori.
  • Tohu wines- the first indigenous branded wine to
    be produced for the export market. The wine is
    harvested from the regions of Marlborough and

Maori and Health
  • Health is not a universal concept nor are health
    professionals necessarily best suited to
    formulate the health aspirations of a people.
    Like other fundamental objectives, health is
    defined for Maori people by their elders, at
    traditional tribal gatherings.
  • Maori culture has a "whole person" view on how
    to look after your self. This means that paying
    attention to all of the key aspects of your life
    is important. This includes caring for soul,
    body, mind and whanau (family). Each of these is
    really important and balance is achieved when
    each dimension is in order. Its best explained
    using Te Tapa Wha model (Wellness Model)
  • Te Taha Wairua (a spiritual dimension)
  • Te Taha Hinengaro (a psychic dimension)
  • Te Taha Tinana (a bodily dimension)
  • Te Taha Whanau (a family dimension)

Te Taha Wairua/ Spirituality
  • Acknowledged to be the most essential
    requirement for health.
  • It means acknowledging who a person is, what
    they believe in, where they come from, and may be
    achieved in the form of Karakia or prayer.
  • It is believed that without a spiritual
    awareness an individual can be considered to be
    lacking in wellbeing and more prone to ill
  • It may also explore relationships with the
    environment, between people, or with heritage.
    The breakdown of this relationship could be seen
    in terms of ill health or lack of personal
  • When confronted with a problem Maori do not seek
    to analyze its separate components or parts but
    ask in what larger context it resides,
    incorporating ancestors or future generations to
    discussions. This may mean the discussion goes
    off on a tangent but the flow will return to the

Te Taha Hinengaro/ Psychic
  • Thoughts, feelings and behaviour are vital to
    health in Te Ao Maori (the Maori world).
  • Maori may be more impressed with unspoken
    signals, eye movement, bland expressions, and in
    some cases regard words as superfluous, even
  • Maori thinking can be can be described as being
    holistic. Understanding occurs less by dividing
    things into smaller and smaller parts.
  • Healthy thinking for a Maori person is about
    relationships. The individual whose first thought
    is about putting themselves, their personal
    ambitions and their needs first, without
    recognizing the impact that it may have on others
    is considered unhealthy.
  • Communication through emotions is important and
    more meaningful than the exchange of words and is
    valued just as much, for example, if Maori show
    what they feel, instead of talking about their
    feelings, this is regarded as healthy.

Te Taha Tinana/ Physical
  • The most familiar component to all of us. The
    Maori consider the body and things associated
    with it as tapu (sacred/special).
  • There is a clear separation between sacred and
    common. For instance the head is regarded as tapu
    and the Maori do not pat each other on the head,
    nor should food be anywhere near a persons head.
    When this happens it can be perceived as
    unhealthy. Hairbrushes should not be placed on
    tables nor should hats.
  • Food is kept away from the body and so are
    utensils. A common thing that is observed in
    Maori households is that tea-towels are not
    placed in a washing machine but always washed by
    hand. Kitchen sinks/tubs should not be used to
    wash personal items either. When a laundry is in
    close proximity to the kitchen this can pose
    problems as well.
  • It is important to take into consideration the
    view of personal space as previously discussed.

Te Taha Whanau/ Family
  • The prime support system providing care, not
    only physically but also culturally and
    emotionally. For the Maori, whanau is about
    extended relationships rather than the western
    nuclear family concept.
  • Maintaining family relationships is an important
    part of life and caring for young and old alike
    is paramount. Everyone has a place and a role to
    fulfill within their own whanau.
  • Families contribute to a person's wellbeing and
    most importantly a person's identity. A Maori
    viewpoint of identity of identity derives much
    from family characteristics. It is important to
    understand that a person carrying an ancestral
    name will often be seen as having the qualities
    of their namesake.
  • It is important to be aware for Maori, a persons
    identity is gleaned by asking "Where are you
    from" rather than "What is your name?" Maori
    identity is based upon an ancestral Waka (canoe)
    a physical landmark, which is usually a Maunga
    (mountain), a body of water Awa (river), Moana
    (sea) and a significant Tupuna (ancestor). Once
    this is known people can share a common bond.

Traditional Healers
  • The Maori traditional health care believe in the
    power of healers who have had the traditional
    medicines, knowledge and healing passed on from
    generation to generation.
  • There exist many healers which have shaped Maori
    view of health care. These healers include
  • Papa Joe is an internationally renowned
    Indigenous Maori Healer. He was brought into the
    world completely aware and already knowing the
    pathway he was to walk. Being raised amongst his
    elders from birth, Papas great grandfather told
    his mother that the child she was carrying was to
    teach the old traditions of healing, star
    journeying, using bush medicine for healing and
    removal of negative entities from a persons
    energy and so much more. The old people knew of
    his healing abilities well before his birth as
    well as the extraordinary infinite ancient Maori
    knowledge Papas cellular memory would contain.

TeAwhimate Tawhai
  • He has worked as a Maori healer for many years
    and has been a student of Papa Joe since 1995.
  • As part of his work TeAwhimate specializes in the
    preparation of traditional Maori herbal medicine
    and continues to prepare and provide these
    medicine to people who require them.
  • TeAwhimates work covers deep tissue massage,
    covering all aspects of the anatomy as well as
    counseling. He has incredible insight intuition
    and a wicked sense of humor. He also covers
    ground and house clearing.
  • The philosophy that he works under
    is, Acknowledging my connection to my ancestors
    accentuates and affirms the teachings and
    ethnical values by which I live. My ancestral
    beginnings formulate my present being,
    encompassing the understandings of yesteryear and
    nurturing the holistic wellbeing of tomorrow.

Health Care
  • Any wide scale intervention aimed at promoting
    health among Maori people must involve elders and
    may need to accept alternate goals and methods,
    relevant to current Maori thinking, though
    possibly peripheral to established Western health

Death and Dying Beliefs
  • On death, the Maori believe that the spirit
    travels to the pohutukawa tree which sits on the
    very tip of Cape Reinga, at the top of the North
    Island - as far anybody may go in New Zealand.
  • The spirit then slides down a root of the
    pohutdukawa, after removing his or her clothes,
    to the sea below. This is called Rerenga-wairua
  • The spirit emerges onto Ohaua, which is the
    highest tip of the Three Kings Islands, for a
    final farewell before greeting the ancestors.
    The spirit waits for a break in the seaweed in
    the ocean and then jumps in.
  • The spirit is called and welcomed by his/her
    ancestors, and eats the food of the dead and can
    never return to the realm of the living.

Maori Beliefs About Death
  • When a Maori is near his/her death, he/she may be
    heard to say ---is calling me, mentioning the
    name of an ancestor because the spirits of
    his/her forbears are calling to him/her to join
    them in the spirit world.
  • When very near his/her end cries of farewell
    might be heard from the assembled folk, sending
    off the dying person to the spirit world.
  • If possible a Maori prefers to die out of doors,
    that he/she may see the world one last time.

Funeral Rites
  • When someone dies, the first task after the death
    of a person is to wrap the body and bind it to a
    stake to keep it in a sitting position.
  • A special funerary cloak is secured around it and
    the face was painted with a preparation of red
    ochre and oil. The hair is oiled, dressed and
    adorned with feathers. Weapons of the deceased
    and any special articles he might have possessed
    are placed beside the body.
  • The body was then placed in a sitting position in
    the porch of the principal house of the village
    with its face towards the sun as it rises from
    its cave. The house is intensely tapu so long as
    the body remained there.
  • The lying in state continued for days.
    Eventually the body was taken away and buried,
    which was often performed at night. Cremation
    was not unheard, however, during times of war and
    a speedy disposal was needed.
  • The clothes of the deceased are placed in a
    carved chest which is preserved by the family and
    descendants as a sacred relic.

Funeral Rites Continued
  • If a man died, his canoe would be rendered tapu
    and would be cut in half. One of these halves
    would be decorated as described above and set up
    in a vertical position, the wide end embedded in
    the earth. These memorials, were erected within
    the limits of the fortified villages.
  • The urupa (graveyard) is generally within the
    Marae complex, and this area is particularly
    tapu. When leaving the urupa, the tapu may be
    removed by washing the hands in water. For this
    purpose, a water container may often be found
    just outside the gate of the urupa.
  • The carved figures along the inside walls of the
    whare represent ancestors of the local marae
    people, as well as those of other tribes.
  • In earlier times, the head of a loved chief or
    warrior leader would be removed and preserved, in
    order to always be with the bereaving family and

  • When a person dies, the village comes to lament,
    the women in front and the men behind them. Their
    clothes typically wrapped about their waists.
    Close relatives also cut their hair.
  • The potae taua, or mourning cap, was also worn.
    It was crownless, composed of a fillet or band to
    encircle the head from which were suspended
    strings of seaweed, some fibrous plant or the
    tail feathers of a bird.

Mourning Continued
  • The close relatives of a dead person are said to
    be in the house of mourning during the period
    of mourning. It is not a physical house, but a
    metaphorical one.
  • During the first days of mourning relatives are
    not supposed to eat food during the day. Not
    until the abolition of the tapu of the house of
    mourning will they eat. That function was
    formerly marked by a rite performed over the
    mourners at a stream, in which their grief and
    mournful longing for the dead were horoia atu, or

After Burial
  • Persons who handled bodies of the dead were
    extremely tapu, and that tapu had to be lifted
    from that burial party on its return to the
    village home.
  • This rite was performed in water, in which the
    tapu persons had to immerse their naked
    bodies.The officiating priest intoned the
    necessary ritual to remove all restrictions.
  • A funeral feast followed this performance, and
    some special and tapu food, termed popoa, was
    consumed by the ariki and tohunga of the
  • Food was sometimes offered to a dead person prior
    to the burial. A priest would put it to the mouth
    of the corpse and withdraw it, or simply wave it
    towards his mouth. The ahua, or semblance, of the
    food was supposed to be consumed by the deceased.
  • A part of the tapu lifting ceremony described
    above was the ceremonial cutting of the hair of
    the chief mourner.