New Zealand Maori Part II

Even the death is interwoven with mythology. When a Maori dies, his soul travels to the Pohutukawa tree (New Zealand Christmas Tree) on the very tip of the North Island. From there she wanders into the sea at the foot of the tree and then sets off to Hawaiki, where the soul unites with those of the ancestors.

An important figure in ancient mythology is the lizard, who is considered the emissary of the god Whiro, who represents the sinister on earth. The appearance of a lizard is therefore interpreted as an evil sign from the gods. The lizard can also be found as an art motif, whereby the negative forces of the animal are converted into a kind of protection.

The tattoo

Another important part of the Maori tradition is the tattoo . Here, too, mythology tells a story: tattooing (tattooing, Polynesian: tautu = sign) began with a love story between the young man Mataora and the princess Niwareka from the underworld. When Mataora hit Niwareka one day, she left him and ran back to her father. Mataora regretfully followed his beloved, overcoming numerous dangerous situations and obstacles. When he finally reached the kingdom Niwareka had fled to, his face was smeared and dirty from the trip. In this state he asked Niwareka for forgiveness, which she finally accepted. Niwareka’s father now offered Mataora to instruct him in the art of tattooing – the art of ta moko. With this knowledge, Mataora and Niwareka returned to the human world.

The craftsmanship of the Maori is therefore also reflected in tattooing. The Maori are masters of the geometric shapes and traditional patterns of the tattoo. Those who could not show a tattoo were considered to have no particular social status, especially earlier.

Tattooing began with puberty and was only of very distinguished people in a special ceremony , accompanied by music and songs performed. During this process and the subsequent wound healing, certain prohibitions were in place. With a face tattoo z. B. no solid food is consumed in order not to infect the swollen skin.

Tattoos played on warriors an important role in pleasing women, but was also generally seen as a milestone on the way to growing up or making other drastic changes.

Maori in the 19th and 20th centuries

Similar to the Native Americans in America or the Aborigines in Australia, when the arrival of white settlers began, the Maori were systematically pushed back in their own country and categorized as a minority. The traditions of the Maori were pushed back more and more. The face tattoo, which showed status and ethnicity, also lost its importance.

The distribution of land finally posed a serious problem. In 1840, the Waitangi Treaty between the Maori and the British Crown, through which 500 Maori leaders surrendered sovereignty over New Zealand to the Crown and were given certain land and fishing rights, was concluded the protection of the crown over its possessions.

Unfortunately only 72 of the 500 Maori could read and write and understand the difficult contract. According to today’s criticism, the translation could not even be understood by most Maori. Many other settlers at the time did not even feel bound by a treaty concluded with the Maori. The disputes that resulted from this treaty culminated in numerous until the 20th century Protests over land tenure claims, demands for participation and processes over the cultural identity of the Maori.

Maori today

Through continuous efforts, the Maori are today Parliament represented New Zealand, there is a Minister of Maori Affairs and the New Zealand Maori Council, the Maori Women’s Welfare League and the Maori Education Foundation. The heroes of the New Zealand sports nation are the players of the All Blacks rugby team, who perform the traditional haka before each game, a chant that is accompanied by aggressive movements and facial expressions.

According to anylistintheus, the cultural integration is also due to the growing Maori population, the promotion of the Maori language in schools and the media, mixed marriages and strengthened by the increased influx of Maori into the cities. With regard to mixed marriages, one could argue that the number of Maori people of pure descent is declining, but today’s Maori believe that whoever feels like one is Maori. This new self-confidence of the Maori in New Zealand is called Maoritanga.

New Zealand Maori 2