The Maori Culture
Michel Waller PhD
October 23, 2012
The Maori, which means "ordinary or common," arrived in New Zealand in the 14th century. Polynesian by descent, they came from the mythical land of Hawaiki, believed by many experts to be a combination of places, including Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii and the Cook Islands. Upon arriving in New Zealand, the Maori dubbed the picturesque land Aotearoa, or "land of the long white cloud."
The Maori Culture
The Maori like many other Pacific Islanders started their journey in a canoe. Living on an island afforded the Maori with a unique and diverse culture that is still evident in Modern day New Zealand. In the next few pages I will give you a brief glimpse of the Maori way of life then and now. I will discuss the belief and value system, gender roles, healing the sick and also the impact of Colonialism on the Maori way of life. There are three basic beliefs and values of the Maori. I nga wa o Mua, Whakapapa and Mana. I nga wa o Mu.
Maori believe that ancestors and supernatural beings are ever-present and able to help the tribe in times of need. The Maori world view is to look in front of us to the past for guidance as that is where we came from. It was because of this philosophy that the Maori did not conveniently forget about the Treaty of Waitangi once it was signed. Through facing the past they can learn from past mistakes and not repeat them. This concept is totally reversed in other cultures, who try to encourage them to forget about the past and to put things behind them
Whakapapa translated means genealogy. The Maori believe that everything and everyone are connected and therefore a part of their Whakapapa. Whakapapa includes genealogies of spiritual and mythological significance, as well as information about the person's tribe and the land he or she lives on. The Whakapapa is passed down orally in the form of stories. One of the most famous stories is story of the creation of Aotearoa. Aotearoa was pulled from the sea by the demi god Maui. Maui was the last of five brothers and was known to be clever. He hid in the canoe of his brothers and when they would not give him bait to fish he took his magical hook and slashed his face and smeared the blood on his hook so that his blood would attract the fish. Smelling the blood the god of the sea gave Maui his biggest fish. Maui asked his brothers to not cut up and eat the fish until proper arrangements had been made to appease and thank the gods for their gift. While Maui was on land trying to pull the boat to shore his brothers started to cut the fish because it started to move. That is why Aotearoa the fish and the mountains and the valleys are where Maui’s brothers tried to cut the fish. Mana
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Mana is “Among Polynesian and Melanesian peoples, a supernatural force or power that may be ascribed to persons, spirits, or inanimate objects. Mana may be good or evil, beneficial or dangerous, but it is not impersonal; it is never spoken of except in connection with powerful beings or things. The term was first used in the 19th century in the West in connection with religion, but mana is now regarded as a symbolic way of expressing the special qualities attributed to persons of status in a hierarchical society, of providing sanction for their actions, and of explaining their failures”. The Maori believe in three forms of Mana. The first type of Mana is the Mana that you have when you are born. This Mana comes from your Whakapapa and can attribute to the rank and status of your descendants. This Mana is not only the ancestor themselves but also the deeds that they did and the skills, traits and abilities taught to them by their tupuna (elders). The second type of Mana is Mana given to you by other people. Today there are people who seek Mana and deliberately go around trying to...