Life of the Maori

The Maori's Culture/Traditions, Language, and Religion/Gods

Culture and Traditions

  • Traditionally, babies were always named after their naval cords were cut off.

  • People spoke Karakia (chants or spells) to ward off unseen presences and to communicate with gods. However, Karakia was not used to worship gods.

  • When people fish, they would always throw their first catch back into the water so that they could honor Tangaroa, who is the god of the sea. The Maori believed that if one did not throw their first catch back into the water, the god would drag him or her under the sea.

Ngati Porou - Paikea


  • The Maori language was considered the primary language in New Zealand during the 1800's.

  • For a period of time, the Maori language was diminishing because new settlers brought English to the community.

  • During this period of declination, the Maori language was only spoken in Maori villages and communities where the natives lived.

  • In the 1980's, a recovery of the Maori language was made, and today Te Reo (Maori language) is one of the three languages of utmost importance in New Zealand.


1800-1840: Te Reo is the prominent language in New Zealand and is used in all situations.

1961: Maori language is an antiquity of Maori culture and is mainly used in traditional Maori villages and tribes.

1972: A petition to restore the Maori language is presented to Parliament and signed.

2004: On the 28th of March, a Maori TV show airs its first service.

Religion and Gods

  • The Maori people were polytheists, which meant that they believed in multiple gods.

  • They believed that numerous stages during the creation of Earth was formed by gods. The first stage formed was the world of chaos, and then the next stage formed was world of the night. Lastly, the world of light was created.

  • Some gods the people believed in were Tawhirimatea (god of the wind), Tane (god of the forest), Rongo (god of cultivated food), and many more.

  • To honor the gods, children may be dedicated to particular gods during certain ceremonies. Shrines were also built to honor and worship gods.

By: Valen Liu and Casey Smith