The Maori Culture

Maori art, traditions, and religion

Maori Art

The traditional arts of the Maori may be classified as carving in wood, stone, or bone, geometrical designs in plaiting and weaving, painted designs on wood and on the walls of rock shelters, and tattooing. It is essential to point out that the major forms of Maori art have never died out and traditons have been passed down from pre-European times to the present day. It is true that tattooing is no longer practiced and that little stoneworking has been done by Maoris in the past 50 years, but it is possible that more major carved houses have been built in the last 30 years than in any like time in Maori history. Many of the present day carvers are descended from families which have produced carvers for centuries. Maori art has evolved over time and continues to grow.

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The traditions of the Maori people

The Maori have a traditional greeting known as "hongi". Hongi is performed by pressing your nose on the nose of the person you meet. An old Maori belief states that during hongi the "ha" or "breath of life" is exchanged and intermingled. After hongi you are transformed from a visitor, or a "manuhiri", to "tangata whenua" or "one of the people of the land".

Maori religion Maori religious movements developed with a strong focus on resisting the loss of Maori land. After confiscating massive areas of land, the secular colonial state sometimes punished Maori religious movements that posed a practical or symbolic threat. Traditionally Maori recognized a pantheon of gods and spiritual influences. From the late 1820s Maori altered their moral practices, religious lives and political thinking, as they made Christianity their own. By the mid-1840s, a larger proportion of Maori regularly attended services. Te Hahi Mihinare, the Anglican Church, attracted the largest, and still remains the largest Maori denomination. Methodists and Catholics are not very far behind. Maori Christians often practiced their faith in distinctively Maori ways, and many took the new faith seriously.

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