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Maori Culture

Mâori culture is a distinctive part of New Zealand culture. With the growth of tourism and exposure of haka to international audiences on TV and at sporting competitions, Mâori culture that was previously observed only in Mâori society and social gatherings with a significant Mâori aspect, is increasingly seen as fundamental to New Zealand culture as a whole.

While in New Zealand you will also notice the increasing use of Maori words in everyday New Zealand speech.

Origins of Maori

The East Polynesian ancestors of the Mâori were hunters, fishermen, and gardeners. After arriving in New Zealand, Mâori had to rapidly adapt their material culture and agricultural practices to suit the climate of their new land - cold and harsh in comparison to tropical island Polynesia. Great ingenuity was required to grow the tropical plants they had brought with them from Polynesia, including taro, kumara, gourds, and yams; this was especially difficult in the chillier southern parts of the country. The harakeke (flax plant) served as a replacement for coconut fronds and hibiscus fibre in the manufacture of mats, baskets, rope, fishing nets and clothing.

Seasonal activities included gardening, fishing and the hunting of birds. Main tasks were separated for men and women, but there were also a lot of group activities involving food gathering and food cultivation, and warfare. Art was and is a prominent part of the culture as seen in the carving of houses, canoes, weapons, and other items. The people also wore highly decorative personal ornaments, and people of rank often had their skin marked with extensive tâ moko similar to tattooing.

Maori Culture Mini Documentary

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