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Section - B2.2 Maoritanga

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Maoritanga is Maori culture; a way of life and view of the world.  It is a
growing and changing part of life in NZ.  The ancestors and all living
things are descended from the gods, who are often embodied in specific
mountains, rivers and lakes, which is why kinship and links with the land
are so important.  Maui was one of the earliest descendants and was
responsible for slowing the sun to make the days longer, taming fire, and
fishing the North Island (Te Ika a Maui) from the sea from his brothers'
canoe (the South Island - Te Waka a Maui).  Most Maori can trace descent
from the chiefs of Hawaiki who sailed to Aotearoa in voyaging canoes from
about 1200 years ago.  The marae (particular area of land and buildings,
containing the Whare or meeting house) is the focus of traditional Maori
community life.

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, after Maori had petitioned Queen
Victoria about the damage being done to their land and culture by
uncontrolled land speculators and resource exploiters.  Another influence
was the wish of the British to prevent the French or Americans from gaining
a hold on the new colony (Hone Heke flew the Stars and Stripes on his war
canoe).  The first article ceded to the Queen of England the right to make
laws in exchange for the retention of full control of their lands, forests,
fishing and prized posessions.  The second article promised the Maori full
rights to their lands, forests and treasured possessions (and fisheries in
the English version).  The third article gave the Maori all the rights and
privileges of British subjects.

Despite the egalitarian language, in practice the principles of the Treaty
were often ignored.  Dissatisfaction over the control of land in the North
Island led to war in the 1860's with the result that much Maori land was
confiscated.  It was 100 years before the Maori protest movement had enough
strength to come into the public eye, although certain key personalities
have been supporting a Maori renaissance since the early years of this
century.  All environmental and planning legislation passed since 1986
contains provisions for the support of the principles of the Treaty of
Waitangi.  Recent claims to the Waitangi Tribunal have resulted in some
land being returned to Maori control.  In other cases the resource
implications are so complex and potentially vast that decisions on
reparation have been delayed for some years.  This is the case, for
example, with the claim of Ngai Tahu, the largest and most powerful South
Island tribe.  The claim has been accepted in principle, but settlement
appears to be some way away.

Maori is now an official language of NZ, although outside the Maori
community it is rare to hear it spoken except on ceremonial occasions.
Maori have established various programmes for the revival of their
language, particularly in pre-school and primary schools.

Most Maori are now town and city dwellers, and many have lost touch with
their original marae base.  However there is a groundswell of regeneration
of interest in the marae, and some people are returning to their tribal
homes.  In the cities, urban marae, sometimes catering for people of many
tribes, have been established.

Maori culture was transmitted orally, through the telling of stories, song
(waiata) and the reciting of whakapapa (genealogies).  It was also
represented in stylised form in carvings and woven panels that adorned
whare (meeting houses).  There is a revitalisation of these traditional
arts, especially as the marae movement gains more strength, and also
because new marae, for example on school and university campuses, are being
built.  Maori traditional music was very effectively suppressed by the
nineteenth century missionaries.  Traditional instruments are now rarely
seen but the Maori love of music survives in waiata, which today are a
blend of remembered traditional waiata plus adaptations from western music.

One of the most difficult things for any dominant culture to handle is the
acceptance of real partnership with another group, especially one that for
many years was regarded as inferior.  The pretty or quaint sides of Maori
culture, long exploited by the tourist industry, are not the whole thing.
The real thing involves power and resource sharing, and this process of
reallocation will cause debate and some strife within New Zealand for years
to come.


Brian Harmer:

"To give an indication of how complex the Maori situation is, here are the
names of some of the tribes.  This section is evolving...

Maori Tribes (this is not exhaustive), listed in approximate North to South
geographic distribution (paraphrased from The Revised Dictionary of Modern
Maori by P.M.  Ryan, 1989 Heinemann Education)

Te Aupouri
Ngati Kahu
Te Rarawa
Ngati Whatua
Ngati Tai
Ngati Paoa
Ngati Tamatera
Ngati Whanaunga
Ngati Maru
Ngai te Rangi
Ngati Haua
Ngati Mahuta
Te Arawa
Ngati Ranginui
Ngati Awa
Ngati Maniapoto
Ngati Porou
Ngati Tuwharetoa
Rongo Whakataa
Ngati Tama
Te Aitanga-a-Makahi
Ngati Raukawa
Ngati Ruanui
Ngati Apa
Ngati Hau
Ngati Kahungunu
Ngati Toa

then to the South Island

Ngai Tahu
Ngati Mamoe

I believe most tribes had sub-tribes, and there was much ebbing and flowing
as various groups conquered, or were in turn conquered and enslaved."


Lyndon Watson wrote:

"There are more in the Marlborough Sounds-Nelson region, e.g. Ngati Koata
who broke off from Ngati Toa in the last century and sided with local
tribes and who have just been in the news for getting Stephens Island back
and promptly giving it to the Crown as a nature reserve.

The question of tribal affiliation in the lower three-quarters of the South
Island is a vexed one because some descendants of the tribes who lived
there before the Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu invasions from the North Island
(e.g. Te Waitaha of South Canterbury-North Otago who claim to be the
original 'Moa Hunters') claim to be members still of those tribes while
Ngai Tahu consider that they (and, indeed, the Ngati Mamoe) are now at the
most subtribes of Ngai Tahu.  Tempers can get very heated round here over
this matter.

And it should also be mentioned that some do not like 'iwi' being
translated as 'tribe', and 'hapu' as 'subtribe'."


For more info on Maori culture and history, try:
which gives a brief overview of Maori history, and:
which deals with the art of Moko.


For info on Maori history and lists several Maori writers:


And the Auckland City Art Gallery collection of Maori portraits by Charles
Fredrick Goldie:

Adam Gifford (for whom I have no net address) invites people to visit:

Once Were Warriors homepage:


B2.2.1  The Moriori Question

Simon O'Rorke provides the following quotes and opinions:

In her book "The Prehistory of New Zealand" (Longman Paul, Auckland,
1987) Janet Davidson wrote:

"...[during the 1890s]... many spurious traditions about [Maori] origins
began to gain wide acceptance.  Some of these still hinder the study of New
Zealand prehistory today.  One theory was the so-called 'Maruiwi myth',
which suggested that the first inhabitants of new Zealand had been a
different and probably inferior race to the later Maori.  The resumption of
intensive archeological work in the South Island during the 1920s and 1930s
was partly in response to this theory.

"[this] archeological work....demonstrated the Polynesian nature of
moa-hunter assemblages and disproved the idea that the moa-hunters were an
earlier and different race from the Maori.  Yet the idea of the inferior
and defeated Maruiwi or Moriori still lives on in the minds of modern New
Zealanders, confused with the Moriori of the Chatham Islands who were in
fact an isolated group of Polynesians, although very closely related to the
New Zealand Maori."

The Maruiwi was a Maori tribe (iwi) whose name is known from oral tradition
but which did not survive to the time of the settlement of New Zealand by
Europeans.  Contrary to the assertions of the 19th century European
mythologizers of Maori origins, they were not a pre-Maori people.  They
were probably wiped out in inter-tribal warfare during the 14th century or
later, i.e. hundreds of years after Polynesians settled what is now New
Zealand in the 9th century.

The European mythologizers of Maori origins, in particular S. Percy Smith,
who in 1892 founded the Polynesian society, noticed the similarity between
the word "Maruiwi" and the word "Moriori", the name of the indigenous
people of the Chatham Islands, which are located in the Pacific Ocean about
400 km East of New Zealand.  They jumped to the conclusion that the Moriori
were the descendants of (supposedly pre-Maori) Maruiwi survivors who had
fled to the Chathams to New Zealand when Polynesians (Maori) first settled
New Zealand.  Until recently, New Zealand school children were taught this
story as historical fact.

Davidson has this to say about the Moriori:
"Despite widespread popular belief that the Moriori were a vanquished group
who fled to the Chathams from New Zealand, Moriori and Maori were unaware
of each others' existence before the rediscovery of the Chathams by
Europeans in the late 18th century.  Sutton has recently strongly argued
that the Chathams were settled from New Zealand between A.D. 1000 and 1200
and became completely isolated after about A.D. 1400.  No archeological
sites of this early period have yet been excavated in the Chathams,
however, and the possibility of settlement from elsewhere in East Polynesia
cannot be entirely excluded."

Why did the European myth of a people in New Zealand before the Maori
arise?  And why has it persisted despite clear contrary evidence?  In his
book on the struggles of the Maori since the European settlement of New
Zealand, "Ka Whatwhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End", (Penguin,
Auckland, 1990) Ranginui Walker put it very well:

"The myth of the Moriori is essentially ideological in the sense of being a
false consciousness as a solution in the mind to conflict generated by the
colonisers' expropriation of Maori land.  According to the myth, the Maori,
as a superior and more warlike people, expropriated the land from the
Moriori.  Therefore Pakeha [Maori term for European settlers and their
descendants] expropriation of the same land on the basis of their superior
civilisation was in accordance with the principle of the survival of the
fittest.  For this reason the false myth of the Moriori has been one of New
Zealand's most enduring myths.  Pakeha need the myth for the endorsement of
colonisation and Pakeha dominance."

I can back up Walker's argument from personal experience.  I have
frequently heard (usually right-wing) European New Zealanders using the
Maoris' alleged extermination of the Moriori in New Zealand as
justification of European mistreatment of Maori.  I would note however,
that these days the justification tends to be in terms of a rather guilty
"The Maori were just as bad as the Europeans" rather than the more
self-confident social-Darwinist survival-of-the-fittest justification that
was prevalent at the beginning of this century.


B2.2.2  Guide to Maori pronunciation

The five vowels; a, e, i, o and u, are pronounced in two ways:
short               long
a as u in but       a as a in father
e as e in pen       e as ai in pair
i as i in bit       i as ee in feet
o as o in fort      o as o in store
u as u in put       u as oo in boot

Where two vowels are together:  both are sounded but they are run together

The ten consonants in Maori: h, k, m, n, p, r, t, w, ng, wh.
The first eight are pronounced as in English.   The last two are digraphs,
'ng' being pronounced as the ng in 'singer', and 'wh' as wh in 'whale', or
as a 'f'.

From The Revised Dictionary of Modern Maori:
The consonants:
'r' is not rolled.
'p' is soft.
'wh' is usually pronounced 'f', sometimes as 'h', 'w', of 'wh'.
'ng' has a softish 'g' and is pronounced/spelled 'ng' or 'k' depending on
  the area; usually 'k' in the South Island.

In the book "He Whakamarama - A new course in Maori" the following
describes 'ng' and 'wh':

"When we say 'na', the tip of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth
somewhere behind the top of the upper teeth.  When we say 'nga', the tongue
stays down with the tip touching the back of the lower teeth.

"'Wh' differs from 'f' in this way.  When we say 'f', the upper teeth
firmly touch the bottom lip, but with 'wh' there is little or no pressure
of the upper teeth on the bottom lip.

The following:
may help with the preceding.


Lachy Paterson wrote:

"Te Reo Maaori will exist only if it is taught (and learnt) as a spoken
language.  This means that students should have a tutor of some sort who
can actually talk to them (analog not digital!).  While this would be
difficult in another country, it should not be difficult in NZ.

However, if people wanted to teach themselves the rudiments of Maaori/Maori
grammar, then I would recommend

He Whakamarama A new Course in Maori
   by John Foster   (Heinemann)
Te Kakano   (Stage 1 University text)
Te Pihinga  (Stage 2)
   by John C. Moorfield  (Longman Paul).

Kia manawanui."

Lyndon Watson adds:
"Yes, and to complicate matters there are some dialectical variations.
Some East Coast speakers tend to replace 'ng' with the simple 'n'.  And
some South Island speakers replace it with 'k', but then it is spelled
accordingly so there is no problem for the outsider.

The 'wh' sound also seems to vary from place to place.  I have heard
elderly speakers in Northland say something very like the (proper) English
'wh' sound - 'h' followed by 'w' - and again some Eastern speakers use a
plain 'w'.  Pakehas tend to give up and fall back on a plain 'f'.

Judy Shorten adds:
"Say it in Maori" by Alan Armstrong is a really good little book with a
limited English-Maori and Maori-English dictionary as well as a wide
variety of phrases that cover many situations.  There is also a page on
pronounciation.  I would recommend this little book for anyone wanting to
have a very basic knowledge of the Maori language, but on the other hand
most tourists travelling around NZ on tours don't have the time or the
inclination to read even a little book about correct pronounciation and
therefore make some rather hilarious attempts at trying to pronounce even
the simplest names.

The Concise Maori Dictionary, A.H. & A.W. Reed
The Revised Dictionary of Modern Maori, P. M. Ryan's, reprint 1989,
  Heinemann, ISBN 0 86863 564 2
Say it in Maori, Alan Armstrong

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