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Maori

Maori
The long and intriguing story of the origine of the indigenous Maori people can be traced back to the 13th century, the mythical homeland Hawaiki, Eastern Polynesia. Due to centuries of isolation, the Maori established a distinct society with characteristic art, a separate language and unique mythology.
“My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul”
Defining aspects of Maori traditional culture include art, dance, legends, tattoos and community. While the arrival of European colonists in the 18th centure had a profound impact on the Maori way of life, many aspects of traditional society have survived into the 21th century. 
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- Jimmy Nelson

Haruru Falls, North Island

January 2011

As a polytheist culture, the Maori worshipped many gods, goddesses and
spirits. Maori believe that ancestors and supernatural beings are
ever-present and able to help the tribe in times of need. Myths are set in
the remote past. They present Maori ideas about the creation of the
universe and the origins of gods and of people.

The mythology accounts for natural phenomena, the weather, the stars
and the moon, the fish in the sea, the birds of the forest, and the forests
themselves. The Maori understanding of the development of the universe
was expressed in genealogical form.

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- Jimmy Nelson

Ta moko

January 2011

Defining aspects of Maori traditional culture include art, legends, tattoos
(ta moko), performances (notably kapa haka), customs, hospitality and
community.

Tattooing has always been an important part of Maori culture.
Receiving tattoos was an important step to maturity and there were
many rites and rituals associated with the event. Every member of a
Maori tribe had a specific role and a specific place within the social
order.
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- Jimmy Nelson

Robert Davis

January 2011

These journeys established the Maori as daring and resourceful
adventurers, and as one of the greatest navigating peoples of all time.
Due to centuries of isolation from the rest of the world, the Maori
established a distinct society with characteristic art, a separate
language and unique mythology.
Artprint available soon

- Jimmy Nelson

Huka Falls

January 2011

While the arrival of Europeans had a profound impact on the Maori way of
life, many aspects of traditional society have survived into the 21st century.
The Maori participate fully in all spheres of New Zealand culture and
society, leading largely Western lifestyles while also maintaining their own
cultural and social customs.

Traditional kinship ties are actively maintained, and the whanau (extended
family) in particular remains an integral part of Maori life. Though many
Maori migrated to larger rural towns and cities, they remained almost 
exclusively a rural population.
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- Jimmy Nelson

Taupo village

January 2011

Kai is the Maori word for food. The Maori diet was based
on birds and fish, supplemente by wild herbs and roots.
In their tribal gardens, Maori also grew root crops
including yams, gourds and kumara (sweet potatoes).

The Maori usually cooked in underground ovens called
hangi. To this day, this traditional cooking method is still
used on special occasions, creating feasts made from
traditional ingredients.

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- Jimmy Nelson

Dr Pita Sharples

January 2011

The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and their story is
both long and intriguing. On the basis of oral records, archaeological
finds and genetic analyses, we can place the arrival of Maori in
New Zealand in the thirteenth century AD.

The origin of the Maori has been reliably traced to the islands of
Eastern Polynesia. Their journey to New Zealand from the mythical
homeland Hawaiki occurred in a number of epic waka (canoe)
voyages over a significant period of time. Legend has it that twelve
large canoes each carried a different tribe (iwi). Even today, most
Maori people can tell which original tribe they are descendants of.
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- Jimmy Nelson

Promise Taniwha

January 2011

By the end of the nineteenth century, the effects of early colonisation,
wars and epidemics had reduced the Maori population to a low of
around 40,000. In early 20th century, the Maori population
numbers began to recover and Maori culture underwent a renaissance.
There are currently around 650,000 Maori in New Zealand.
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- Jimmy Nelson

The ordinary

January 2011

The early Maori were very peaceful in comparison to later
generations, amongst whom a warfare culture emerged with many
battles between tribes.

The early settlers did not call themselves Maori until the arrival of
the European colonists in the 18th century. They then needed a name
to mark their distinction from the newcomers and used Maori,
meaning ‘ordinary’ (as in different from the extraordinary gods).
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- Jimmy Nelson

Taupo Village, North Island

January 2011

Maori society is particularly visible at the marae. Formerly the central
meeting spaces in traditional villages, marae frequently host events such
as weddings, funerals and other large gatherings, with traditional protocol
and etiquette usually observed. These events are great occasions to show
off their colourful traditional garments, jewellery, intricate tattoos, dances
and chants: in short, to reestablish Mori traditions.
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- Jimmy Nelson

Haka war

January 2011

The haka war dance, meant to intimidate the enemy, is one of the
best-known cultural traditions of the Maori. These dances are
accompanied by song and body percussion created by clapping hands,
stomping feet and slapping thighs. The dance itself involves energetic
postures representing warlike and aggressive poses.

Maori chanting follows very strict rules. To break a chant in midstream is
to invite disaster or even death for a community. These chants often tell
of family lines or the exploits of ancestors.
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- Jimmy Nelson

Connie Adam

January 2011

An individual’s place within society was often signified by their garments
and tattoos. People of high social status were always tattooed,
whereas tribesmen with no tattoos were considered worthless.