New Zealand Maori Part I

The settlement and development of the continents by humans took place at a very early age. The majority of prehistorians assume that the origin of mankind lay in East Africa, from where early man began to spread in numerous waves of migration around 500,000 years ago. With the settlement of South America about 34,000 years ago, the actual development of the continents came to an end.

This was followed by numerous other migrations that had political, social or religious causes. As an example, the Indo-European migration around 2000 BC BC, the Crusades between the 11th and 13th centuries and the emigration from Europe to the New World and the colonies between the 18th and the beginning of the 20th century.

In the case of the Maori of New Zealand, it is assumed that this ethnic group immigrated from Polynesia (Greek: many islands) in several waves between the 8th and 14th centuries. They are considered to be the first settlers who shaped the society of the remote island state through their culture. In many places the Maori are spoken of as the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Today the Maori culture is experiencing a renaissance. Recalling the values ​​of the ancestors and asserting their own rights are, as with many peoples pushed back by white settlers, also in the foreground with the Maori.

Origins

It is estimated that the ancestors of today’s Maori came to New Zealand from Polynesia between 950 and 1130. The word Maori meant something like people from here or original people and was a synonym for the Pakeha, the white settlers from Europe.

Then, in the 19th century, the term Maori was used to refer to the people of New Zealand that Europeans came across when they arrived.

Regarding the origin of this people, Maori mythology tells of an island called Hawaiki,which is considered the place of origin of the Maori and to which the souls of the deceased Maori always return. Hawaiki therefore has great spiritual significance for every single Maori. The way from Hawaiki to Aotearoa , the Maori name for New Zealand, which stands for land of the long white cloud, was said to have been covered in seven typical Maori canoes (waka). This theory, which is part of the Maori tradition and according to which the first settlers from Polynesia stranded in a large canoe fleet on the coasts of New Zealand, is now largely in doubt. Linguists and cultural scholars assume that the Polynesian settlers arrive by chance.

Early culture

Although the Maori culture had more Stone Age characteristics in some aspects until the arrival of the European settlers and their introduction of the metal, it was nevertheless highly developed. Excavations and lore testify to the early use of special tools, including a. for hunting and, especially in the warmer north, for growing fast-ripening crops such as kumara, a type of sweet potato. In the south, fishing was more likely to take place due to the poor growing conditions.

Even today, this form of food production plays a very important role. The food was stored in special warehouses built on stilts and symbolized, even more than war canoes, the strength of the respective tribe. The houses also had rich wood carvings and jewelry production was at an astonishingly high artistic level. Singing and dancing were, and still are, elementary components of the Maori tradition.

Living situation

According to allpubliclibraries, the first Maori lived in smaller settlements near the coast , a so-called kainga. The further development provided for better structured and larger settlements, which were called pa and each dedicated to a tribal god. In contrast to the kainga, there were already several cooking areas and strategically located warehouses. Another important component were the defenses, because defense was necessary when there were disputes over resource-rich areas. Even British troops had to find out during the New Zealand Wars (1843-1872) how difficult a pa was to be taken.

Mythology

The myths and legends about the origin of the earth and the creation of its homeland play a major role in the life of the Maoris. So are u. a. certain geographical features of New Zealand are important reference points. Rivers have a cultural and spiritual meaning, and some mountains on the North Island are sacred to the Maori.

According to legend, the North Island itself was created by catching a large fish, which is why it also has the shape of one. The port of Wellingtons, the capital of New Zealand, represents the eye of the fish. The Maori believe that all living things come from the gods and are reflected in certain mountains, rivers and lakes.

New Zealand Maori 1