More About the Maoris

By: Marty Pelullo & Tuna Menezes

Maori Art

  1. The art of weaving, Raranga, is important among the Maori people. They use Harakeke, a New Zealand Flax, to weave baskets, cloaks and mats.
  2. Carving is mostly done by the Maori men. They carve ornaments, weapons, tools, musical instruments, canoes, and embellished panels and posts.
  3. Tā moko is the art of Maori tattooing. Instead of using needles, the design is carved into the skin to create grooves. Men usually got moko on their faces, butts, and thighs. Women got it on their lips and chin.

Maori Culture and Traditions

One of the most notable Maori Traditions is the Kapa Haka, a Maori line dance. There are a few parts to this:

  • Haka is a traditional war dance. It involves chanting, hand gestures, stomping and may include weapons (like spears and clubs) for show.
  • Poi is another type of traditional dance. The performer (usually a woman) twirls a ball on a cord, called a poi, and creates a rhythm by hitting the ball against the body.
  • Pukana is the facial expressions used in these dances. Men open their eyes wide, show teeth and stick out their tongues, while women widen their eyes and push out their chins to express emotions.


Maori Religion and Gods

  1. The center of Maori religion were the atua or gods. They believed that the natural world and the supernatural world are one.
  2. They believed that creation began with Te Kore, the void; then Te Po, the night; and then Te Ao Marama, the world of light.
  3. Maori priests were known as tohunga. They believed that gods and spirits would communicate through the tohunga.
  4. The Maori people had a certain religious worship to each tribe and to each family. They worshiped in a form called karakia, an invocation addressed to the spirits of dead ancestors of their own line of descent.

  5. There are eight gods that are important to the Maori people:
  • Tane, god of the forest.
  • Tangaroa, god of the sea.
  • Rongo, god of the cultivated foods.
  • Tawhirimatea, god of the wind.
  • Haumia, god of uncultivated foods.
  • Maru, Uenuku, and Kahukura are war gods.