Māori Tribe

From the novel "The Whale Rider"

Maori Legends

In Hawaiiki, there lived a demi-god named Maui who had secret magical powers. One day, he snuck onto a fishing boat with his brothers. When they were far out at sea, they finally discovered him, but it was too late to turn around. They continued rowing and when they were far enough out, Maui dropped his magic fishhook. Eventually, Maui felt an intense resistance on the line. It was so strong, he had to ask his brothers to help him reel it in. To his surprise, he caught the North Island of New Zealand, Te Ika a Maui. Thinking that the gods would be angered, Maui sought to make peace with them. After he left, his brothers began arguing about the possession of the island, and began beating the island with weapons, creating mountains and and valleys. This is how the northern part of NZ came to be.


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Maoris Today

  • Aotearoa, meaning "land of the long white cloud", is the Maori name for New Zealand. About 530,000 people live there today. They are indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand and over 150,000 can speak Te reo Maori.
  • Nearly 500 schools have been established since the 1980's to ensure proper education.
  • The Maori culture was originally started in China, and gradually made its way to New Zealand.
  • The Maori language has now been an official language for over 26 years, and there is even a special week dedicated to learning common phrases in this language.
  • The "Haka", originally a war dance, is now a dance performed by New Zealand's Rugby team at the beginning of each game.
  • The Maoris greet each other using "powhiri" and "hongi", which includes pressing one's nose against another's.





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Maori religion


  • In the early years, the Maori tribe priest would keep a "godstick". A "godstick" was a wooden stick with a tiki at the top and a pointed bottom. It was used by the priest to address the gods and request prosperous times for the tribe. Only priests or other qualified tribe members were allowed to use the godstick.
  • The Maori believe in mana. Mana is believed to be spiritual essence. It is supposedly in man, nature, and land.
  • When a Maori funeral service is held, the people hold twigs with green leaves, which is symbolic of mourning and suffering. Speeches are made to the dead body because Maoris don't believe that the spirit leaves the body until after burial.
  • Occasionally, when a chief of a particular tribe would die, his head would be decapitated and kept. This was because it was believed that the chief would always be with the tribe.



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Why learn about other cultures?

Learning about other cultures helps to earn a greater respect for those around the world, gain a new perspective of life, and gather new ideas based on other walks of life. :)