The Maori Tribe

By Celso Delatorre & Edward Marushkin

Maori Culture and Traditions

The Maori people are very close to their environment. They have many traditions and customs, here are just a few.

  • Oral stories: Maoris primarily - that is to say, almost entirely - pass down traditions, stories, and other cultural articles by speech. Dances, chants, and prayers were thought from one generation to the next, only by speech.

  • Tattooing: Known also as ta moko, This aspect of their culture is not to be taken lightly. These tattoos, made with a bone chisel, are still applied today and they forever connect the bearer to their tribe. You can tell much about a person by their tattoo, such as their job, family, and tribe.

  • Dancing: The Haka is a very well known form of this aspect. It is well known as the traditions war dance of the Maori tribe. Often, if not always, it it used by the New Zealand sports teams when facing off their opponents.

  • Priests: These are truly the centerpiece of the Maori culture. They have many duties to the tribe, such as performing ceremonies, passing down tradition, and communing with the gods.


Maori religion and gods

Maoris have many gods, and they believe that creation started with the gods. The first few gods were:

  • Te Kore - The void
  • Te Pō - The night
  • Te Ao Mārama - The world of light

These were the first, though not necessarily the most important. Eventually, more gods appeared such as:

  • Tāne - God of the forest
  • Tangaroa - God of the sea
  • Rongo - God of farmed food
  • Tūmatauenga - God of war

These were the children of The sky and The Earth, and only became gods after they managed to separate the two (Because Tane used his legs)

According to tradition, Tane created the first woman and married her, creating the first humans. This is where all humans came from.

They believe that everyone has mana - A person's prestige, power, psychic power, ect - and a spirit that can leave it's body. They believe that gods or spirits can talk through certain people known as Tohunga. Tohunga were either Priests or people exceptionally skilled in a certain craft.

A more controversial part of their religion is Io, The supreme god. People argue whether or not he existed originally, or if he was brought about by the idea of God from the Christians. One can never know.


Maori art

Maori art involved of carving in wood, bone or stone, geometrical designs in plaiting and weaving, painted designs on wood and on the walls of rock shelters, and tattooing.

  • Whakairo – The art of carving

Traditionally Maori carvers were men. Their craft included precious adornments, weapons, musical instruments, tools, canoes and decorative panels and posts for the different buildings within the village. According to some tribes, Maori Carving was invented by Rauru, the son of an ancestor named Toi.

  • Raranga – The art of weaving

When Maori first came to Aotearoa, the climate was extreme compared to their homelands in Polynesia. They adapted using their existing twining and weaving skills to produce cloaks and other practical objects such as baskets and mats. The most widely used weaving material was and still is harakeke (New Zealand flax).

Big Idea: what is the importance of studying other cultures?

Studying other cultures gives us the benefit from other experiences and helps in developing a sense of mutual understanding.