Whale Rider (3): Maori History
Western Ways of Knowing the Maori & Maori History
URL of this webpage: http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum210/whalerider/maorihistory.html

1.  Who Are the Maori?

Maori = "native inhabitants of New Zealand. The Maori, a people of Polynesian origin numbering over 500,000 (according to a 1996 census), constitute over 14 percent of New Zealand’s population. More than 95 percent of Maori live on New Zealand’s North Island. Many Maori live in the East Cape area, where they form the majority of the population. Others live in the large cities of New Zealand such as Auckland and Wellington. Most Maori speak the Maori language, a branch of the Austronesian languages, as well as English." Source: "Maori."  Microsoft Encarta 2000 ed. CD-ROM.
"According to the 1991 census, approximately 73 percent of the population of New Zealand is of European (mainly British) descent [Pakeha]. About 12 percent (some 430,000) are Maori, a Polynesian group, whose ancestors migrated to New Zealand about AD [C.E.] 1200. About 4 percent of the population is of other Polynesian descent, and various other Asian ethnicities make up the rest of the population." Source: "New Zealand."  Microsoft Encarta 2000 ed. CD-ROM.

"The Austronesian languages are divided into two branches: Formosan, the languages spoken by about 200,000 people in Taiwan; and Malayo-Polynesian, comprising the rest of the languages in the Austronesian family. The Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages consist of the languages of Micronesia, some languages of Melanesia, and the closely related languages of Polynesia, such as Tahitian, Hawaiian, and Maori, which is spoken in New Zealand. The Western Malayo-Polynesian languages include Malay; Javanese; Balinese, spoken in Malaysia and Indonesia; Malagasy, spoken in Madagascar; the Chamic languages, spoken in Vietnam and Cambodia; and Tagalog, on which Filipino, the national language of the Philippines, is based."
Source: "Austronesian Languages."  Microsoft Encarta 2000 ed. CD-ROM.

Polynesia (>Greek for "many islands") = one of three major divisions (the other two are Melanesia and Micronesia) of the Pacific Islands in the central and southern Pacific Ocean, a region exhibiting considerable cultural and physical diversity.  The Pacific Ocean is the largest single feature of the globe, covering a third of the earth's surface. It contains some 25,000 islands totaling 1.6 million square kilometers scattered across about 88 million square kilometers of water.  Polynesia consists of American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Easter Island, French Polynesia, Hawaii, New Zealand, Niue, the Pitcairn Islands, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa), Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and the Wallis and Futuna Islands. The region contains several distinct types of island formations. Many of the Polynesian islands are volcanic, with corrugated mountain ranges divided by deep valleys.

Polynesian Cultures:
"Cultural diversity characterized the traditional Pacific, though most Polynesian islands exhibit linguistic and cultural similarities
that are due, in part, to frequent trading and social contacts. . . . Polynesian societies . . . were larger in scale and more hierarchically organized [than Melanesian societies].  Lineage defined and structured the social system. The lineage that could trace its roots back through several generations to a common founding ancestor, real or fictitious, claimed, and was accorded, a higher social standing and seniority. Its head was often the leading or paramount chief of the entire clan. Chiefs, variously known throughout Polynesia as ariki or ali'i, were thought to possess mana—moral power and authority—and had well-defined rights and obligations in relation to their people. They commanded respect and deference, exercised control over the production and distribution of the primary resources, and often received the first fruits of the land as symbolic tribute."
Source: The Pacific Islands in Pre-European Times. The Encyclopedia of World History.  6th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.  Ed. Peter N. Stearns and others. Rpt. Bartleby.com. 2003.  5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.bartleby.com/67/864.html#c4p02714>.

"The Maori held many beliefs in common with other Polynesians, including concepts such as tapu (taboo), mana (prestige or honor of a social group or individual), mauri (life force), utu (revenge), and makutu (sorcery). The Maori believed in a number of gods, including Tane-mahuta, lord of the forest, and Tangaroa, a Polynesian ocean god. Tribal dignitaries, such as the higher priests and the chief, also believed in a supreme god, Io, whose existence was not revealed to the community. All Maori believed in a great number of atua, or spirits, who responded to magical spells and punished people for breaking taboos."
Source: "Maori."  Microsoft Encarta 2000 ed. CD-ROM.

2. Where Did the Maori Come From? And When?

From INDIA? . . . to INDONESIA to eastern POLYNESIA, and, after some time sojourning in Tahiti [known as Hawaiki], . . . moving on to AOTEAROA/NEW ZEALAND . . .
      "The Hidden Homeland: . . . . Maori tradition tells us that their ancestors, in times long passed away, migrated from a hot country named Irihia
(cf. Vrihia,
an ancient name for India), and crossed the ocean in an easterly direction. They sojourned in two lands, named Tawhiti-roa and Tawhiti-nui, after which they again voyaged eastward until they reached the isles of Polynesia, which were gradually discovered and settled by them. As to the length of time occupied in these voyages we know little, and they may have extended over centuries, owing to long sojourns in various islands. A glance at the map shows how numerous are the island stepping-stones that occur on an eastward voyage across the Pacific Ocean. . . . Regarding the islands named Ahu, Maui, and Hawaiki, we also find all these names applied to isles in eastern Polynesia. Tahiti Island was formerly known as Hawaiki . . . . The name "Tahiti" has also been preserved by the Maori of New Zealand in the form of Tawhiti, also Tawhiti-nui. Again, Hawaiki is also used in a general sense by our Maori folk, and may be applied to any or all the isles of Polynesia, or to the original homeland, . . . .
"Mr. Percy Smith,
who has written much on the origin of the Maori, tells us that ancestors of these Polynesians probably entered
Indonesia about the commencement of the Christian era, and reached central Polynesia about the fifth century A.D. He traces them back to India. Mr. R. S. Thompson, in his paper on the " Origin of the Maori," comes to the conclusion that the migrants reached Samoa not later than 1000 B.C."
SOURCE: Best, Eldon.  DMM 5. Polynesian Voyagers. The Maori as a Deep-sea Navigator, Explorer, and Colonizer - By Elsdon Best.  Wellington, New Zealand: Dominion Museum, 1923. Taonga. The Knowledge Basket: New Zealand's Research Archive. [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004

From CHINA? . . . to INDONESIA, through Melanesia to POLYNESIA [Fiji - Samoa - Marquesas], then back to TAHITI [known as Hawaiki] . . . and finally moving on to AOTEAROA/NEW ZEALAND . . .
     "Modern scholars tell us that more than 15,000 years ago we lived on the land now called China, and that from there we travelled via Taiwan and the Philippines to Indonesia. About 6,000 to 9,000 years ago we moved on through Melanesia and reached Fiji about 3,500 years ago. From there to Samoa and on to the Marquesas 2,500 years ago. Perhaps that was the limit of our eastern migration for it seems that 1,700 years ago we turned South West to Tahiti, thence to the Cook Islands and to Aotearoa/New Zealand. Where then is the legendary homeland of Hawaiki?
Source:  The Journey of the Maori to Aotearoa.  The Maori People of Aotearoa New Zealand. [No date.] [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004 <http://maaori.com/people/maoriara.htm>.

3. When & How Did the Maori Settle Aotearoa/New Zealand?

". . . from Hawaiki to Hawaiki: Hawaiki, the legendary homeland of the Maori peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand, from whence we migrated to this land about 1000 years ago. Where is Hawaiki? Many have speculated that it lies somewhere in the Pacific, somewhere in Polynesia."

"Our tribal stories tell us that at the death of our bodies our spirits live on and journey back to Hawaiki; to the meeting place of the spirits at Great Hawaiki, Long Hawaiki, Hawaiki Far Away. Life then is a journey from Hawaiki to Hawaiki, the spiritual homeland of the Maori. And Hawaiki is with us always, carried in our hearts through thousands of generations, and thousands of years of migration; carried also through the lifetime of a single heart wherever it may journey."

--The Journey of the Maori to Aotearoa.  The Maori People of Aotearoa New Zealand. [No date.] [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004 <http://maaori.com/people/maoriara.htm>.

"Archaeological evidence dates the earliest human occupation of New Zealand to around the 9th century C.E.  According to Maori tradition, the ancestors of the Maori people migrated by sea to Aotearoa (New Zealand) from Hawaiki, thought to be in the eastern Pacific [i.e. Tahiti]. Maori artifacts and language show affinities with those of Eastern Polynesia. Many Maori genealogies trace tribal descent from ancestral canoes [waka], each of which is associated with a particular area of the country. The Maori had a sophisticated Neolithic culture based on agriculture, fishing, and the hunting of birds. Maori society adapted successfully to New Zealand where the climate was much colder and vegetable food less abundant than in their area of origin. Maori people lived throughout the country but were concentrated in the North Island. Demographers estimate the Maori population was around 100,000 in 1769."
--The Pacific Islands in Pre-European Times. <http://www.bartleby.com/67/864.html#c4p02714>.
New Zealand. <http://www.bartleby.com/67/1500.html>. The Encyclopedia of World History.  6th ed. Ed. Peter N. Stearns and others.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.  Rpt. Bartleby.com. 2003.  5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.bartleby.com/>.

The Polynesian navigator Kupe has been credited with the discovery of New Zealand around 800 AD. Legend has it his wife, Hine-te-aparangi, named it Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud. The legend continues that centuries later, around 1350 AD, a great migration of people from Kupe's homeland of Hawaiki followed his navigational instructions and sailed to New Zealand, eventually supplanting or mixing with previous residents. Their culture, developed over centuries without any discernible outside influence, was hierarchical and often sanguinary.
Source: New Zealand: History.  Lonely Planet World Guide. 2003. [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/australasia/new_zealand/history.htm>.

"Archaeological evidence shows that the Maori originally immigrated to New Zealand probably around 1200 AD [C.E.] from the Cook Islands, Society Islands, and Marquesas Islands in the Pacific Ocean, although oral accounts often place the settlement at an earlier date. It is not known whether the settlers planned their immigration or landed accidentally in New Zealand. According to legends of the Maori, however, their ancestors set out together from a place in Polynesia in a fleet of large canoes. The first inhabitants fished along the coastlines and hunted marine mammals such as fur seals, dolphins, and pilot whales. They also cleared forests for timber, opening up new land to farming in the process."
Source: "Maori."  Microsoft Encarta 2000 ed. CD-ROM.

"The manner in which the Pacific islands were first settled has aroused much debate. . . .  However, combining oral and documentary evidence with practical seamanship, David Lewis has shown that ancient Polynesians had the knowledge and the skill to make a three-way voyage, to discover an island, return home, and then return to the new island to settle it. For the Polynesians, Lewis argued, the empty ocean was full of telltale signs (cloud formations, swell patterns, drift objects, patterns of bird flights), and they read these just as Western navigators read their charts. Purposeful voyages thus probably served as a major vehicle for the initial colonization of the islands.
Source:  The Journey of the Maori to Aotearoa.  The Maori People of Aotearoa New Zealand. [No date.] [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004 <http://maaori.com/people/maoriara.htm>.

(before the Arrival of Europeans)

"Before the arrival of European colonists in the late 18th century, the Maori settled throughout New Zealand and developed a distinctive culture. The Maori economy varied from region to region. In the North Island area where the soil was fertile, cultivation of the sweet potato, or kumara, provided the staple food supply. In other parts of the interior, roots, birds, rats, and freshwater fish made up their diet. On the seacoast, fish was the principal food.

"In most Maori communities, men hunted and plowed, while women weeded, wove, and cooked. Group activities included food gathering, food cultivation, and warfare. Individuals specialized in different arts: poetry, oratory, tattooing, and the carving of wood, bone, and stone. Communal buildings were elaborately decorated with wood carvings. Many Maori wore highly decorative personal ornaments such as amulets and carved stone pendants.

"The Maori lived in villages that were generally guarded by a fort. The people were divided into several tribes, or iwi, each made up of descendants of a common ancestor. Groups of tribes were allied in confederations called a waka. Each tribe was made up of a number of hapu, or clans, which in turn were composed of family groups called whanauPrimogeniture, or inheritance by the firstborn son, was basic to the social system and determined the succession of the highest chief, the ariki."

Source:  "Maori."  Microsoft Encarta 2000 ed. CD-ROM.

Maori-European History - C.E. 1642 - 1840 (to Treaty of Waitangi)

   "Dutch navigator Abel Tasman was the first European to encounter the Maori [in New Zealand]. Four members of his crew were killed in a bloody encounter with Maori on the South Island [of New Zealand] in 1642. In 1769 British explorer James Cook established friendly relations with some Maori. By 1800 visits by European ships were relatively frequent. Maori quickly learned to read and write, and they highly valued books and printing presses. They also prized muskets, which they used to devastating effect in tribal wars. In 1840 representatives of Britain and Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which established British rule, granted the Maori British citizenship, and recognized Maori land rights. Although many of the treaty’s provisions are still disputed, it became the basis of official relationships between Maori and British settlers.
Source: "Maori."  Microsoft Encarta 2000 ed. CD-ROM.

   "In 1642, the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman briefly sailed along the west coast of New Zealand; any thoughts of a longer stay were thwarted when his attempt to land resulted in several of his crew being killed and eaten. In 1769, Captain James Cook circumnavigated the two main islands aboard the Endeavour. Initial contact with the Maoris also proved violent but Cook, impressed with the Maoris' bravery and spirit and recognising the potential of this newfound land, grabbed it for the British crown before setting sail for Australia.
   "When the British began their antipodean colonising, New Zealand was originally seen as an offshoot of Australian enterprise in whaling and sealing: in fact, from 1839 to 1841 the country was under the jurisdiction of New South Wales. However, increased European settlement soon proved problematic: a policy was urgently required regarding land deals between the settlers (Pakeha) and the Maori. In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, with the Maori ceding sovereignty of their country to Britain in exchange for protection and guaranteed possession of their lands."
Source: New Zealand: History.  Lonely Planet World Guide. 2003. [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/australasia/new_zealand/history.htm>.

British Colonization & "New Zealand Wars": C.E. 1841 - 1907

   "In 1841 New Zealand officially became a colony of Britain. Many European settlements were soon established. Between 1843 and 1872 violent conflicts between the Maori and European colonizers, known as the New Zealand Wars, arose over conflicting claims to land. In 1856 Maori elected their first intertribal leader, King Potatau I, also called Te Wherowhero. The movement to unite Maori under a single ruler, known as the Maori King Movement (Kingitanga), enjoyed mixed success. Although its authority was never universally acknowledged, the King Movement was influential in encouraging Maori unity. The descendents of Potatau I, formed the Te Wherowhero dynasty, and continue to lead the Maori King Movement today.
   "After the New Zealand Wars, many Maori lands were confiscated. Remaining Maori lands were generally very poorly suited to farming. Unlike European settlers, Maori were not given government assistance to finance agriculture. Generally they lived in small rural communities separated from the European settlements. The Maori population declined rapidly as a result of the wars and European diseases, such as influenza, measles, and whooping cough, to which they had little resistance. The Maori population fell from about 120,000 in 1769 to 42,000 in 1896. In the late 19th century, European settlers spoke of the Maori as a "dying race."
Source: "Maori."  Microsoft Encarta 2000 ed. CD-ROM.

   After the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, ". . . relations between the Maori and Pakeha soon soured (the Maoris became increasingly alarmed at the effect the Pakeha had on their society while the Pakeha rode roughshod over Maori rights outlined in the treaty). In 1860, war broke out between them, continuing for much of the decade. The fighting eventually died down, and though there was no formal resolution, the Pakehas claimed victory.
   "By the late 19th century, things had temporarily calmed down. The discovery of gold had engendered much prosperity, and wide-scale sheep farming meant New Zealand became an efficient and mostly self-reliant country. Sweeping social changes - women's suffrage, social security, the encouragement of trade unions and the introduction of child care services - cemented New Zealand's reputation as a country committed to egalitarian reform."

Source: New Zealand: History.  Lonely Planet World Guide. 2003. [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/australasia/new_zealand/history.htm>.

Independent New Zealand & the Maori in the 20th Century

   "New Zealand was given dominion status in the British Empire in 1907 and granted autonomy by Britain in 1931; independence, however, was not formally proclaimed until 1947. The economy continued to prosper until the worldwide recession in the 1980s, when unemployment rose dramatically. Today the economy has stabilised, thanks largely to an export-driven recovery. Internationally, New Zealand was hailed during the mid-1980s for its anti-nuclear stance - even though it meant a falling-out with the USA - and its opposition to French nuclear testing in the Pacific (which France countered, to much opprobrium but little penalty, by blowing up the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior as it sat in Auckland Harbour)."
Source: New Zealand: History.  Lonely Planet World Guide. 2003. [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/australasia/new_zealand/history.htm>.

    "In the 20th century the Maori population recovered. A cultural and political revival accompanied the increase in population. Some leaders, educated in both European and Maori traditions, formed the Young Maori Party at the beginning of the 20th century. The Young Maori Party quickly became adept at working within Western institutions, including the New Zealand Parliament, to achieve Maori aims. However, these leaders also supported many European attitudes and activities, including the purchase of Maori land by settlers. Ultimately, this led to their rejection by many Maori.
    "Other leaders soon emerged who owed little to European traditions. Most of these leaders worked exclusively in their own tribes. Maori unity, which had been exemplified by the King Movement, became an almost obsolete concept. The new generation of tribe-based leaders increased pride (mana) in their tribes through social and cultural work and achieved practical advances in sanitation, education, and economic activities. In the late 1920s, carving, oratory, and other Maori arts flourished. Maori who felt ill at ease with the increasing tribalism often joined the Ratana Movement, a religious organization that gradually became more political. The Ratana Movement formed an alliance with New Zealand’s left-leaning Labour Party. This alliance contributed to Labour’s parliamentary success in elections held in 1935 and encouraged government policies aimed at improving Maori living conditions.
    "Although the New Zealand government exempted Maori from conscription during World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945), Maori volunteers served with distinction in both wars. This participation revived something of the warrior spirit that had been dormant since the 1870s and led to increased Maori pride in their identity and heritage. Many of those who did not join the military moved from their villages to cities to work in "essential industries" to help the war effort, beginning a trend toward urbanization that has continued ever since. Only 11 percent of Maori were city dwellers in 1936, but by the 1980s more than 90 percent of the Maori population lived in urban areas."
Source: "New Zealand."  The Encyclopedia of World History.  6th ed. Ed. Peter N. Stearns and others. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.  Rpt. New York: BARTLEBY.COM, 2002.  Bartleby.com. 2003.  5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.bartleby.com/67/1500.html>.

New Zealand & the Maori Today

   "The dominant cultural groups [of New Zealand today] are the Pakeha and the Maori. Other smaller groups include Polynesians, Croatians, Indians and Chinese. A common thread that binds the entire population is its love of sport - especially the national game of rugby union - and outdoor pursuits such as sailing, swimming, cycling, hiking and camping. The secular aside, Christianity is the most common religion, with Anglicanism, Presbyterianism and Catholicism the largest denominations. An interesting religious variation is the synthesis of the Maori Ratana and Ringatu faiths with Christianity.
   "English and Maori are the two official languages. English is more widely spoken, though the Maori language, for so long on the decline, is now making a comeback thanks to the revival of Maoritanga [Maori culture]. A mellifluous, poetic language, Maori is surprisingly easy to pronounce if spoken phonetically and each word split into separate syllables.
    "New Zealand art is multifarious, valuing innovation, integrity and craftsmanship that reflects Pakeha, Maori and Melanesian heritage. Wood, stone, shell and bone carvings are readily available while larger works such as tukutuku (wood panelling) can be seen in most maraes (meeting houses). Paua shell, greenstone, greywacke and greenwacke pebbles are often fashioned into jewellery that takes its inspiration from the landscape: earrings shaped like the leaves of a gingko tree; sunglasses modelled on native fern tendrils; and necklaces in frangipani-flower designs. There is a lively theatre scene in the country, especially in Wellington, and a number of galleries, including the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, which is the oldest viewing room in New Zealand and one of its best. The music scene is vigorous and has spawned a pool of talent, from Split Enz and Crowded House to the thrashing guitar pyrotechnics of Dunedin's 3Ds and Straitjacket Fits, lauded locally and overseas."
Source: New Zealand: Culture.  Lonely Planet World Guide. 2003. [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/australasia/new_zealand/culture.htm>.

    "The Maori population is now increasing faster than the Pakeha and a resurgence in Maoritanga (Maori culture) has had a major and lasting impact on New Zealand society. One of the most heartening aspects of this has been the concerted efforts towards cultural integration between the Maori and Pakeha. However, a clumsy take-it-or-leave-it attempt by the New Zealand government to offer financial reparations has resulted in an upsurge of militant Maori protests over land rights. The issue of reconciliation remains at the top of the political agenda."
Source: New Zealand: History.  Lonely Planet World Guide. 2003. [Last accessed:] 5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/australasia/new_zealand/history.htm>.

   "The proximity of Maori to New Zealanders of European descent [Pakehas] has increased racial tensions. Maori leaders have struggled to replace or complement tribal political structures with new entities representing all Maori. At the same time, there has been a strong revival of cultural activity. Maori claims to lands unjustly taken from them in the 19th century are still being debated. Since 1980 the Waitangi Tribunal, a government body established to settle legal claims based on the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, has examined Maori grievances. In 1995 the Queen of Great Britain, Elizabeth II, offered a formal apology and a promise of compensation to Maori tribes for 'the loss of lives [and] the devastation of property and social life.'
   "Today, most Maori in rural areas still adhere to their cultural traditions. In urban areas, more assimilated Maori have taken up professional occupations. Many Maori are now doctors, lawyers, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and government leaders. Nonetheless the Maori community continues to struggle with high rates of unemployment, imprisonment, alcoholism, drug dependency, and violence. These problems are being addressed in many different ways. Maori activists have issued calls for greater acknowledgment of cultural differences in the justice and education systems. Each tribe (iwi) has social service programs, including educational grants, for its members. There are also community centers for urban Maori who do not belong to a tribe."
Source: "New Zealand."  The Encyclopedia of World History.  6th ed. Ed. Peter N. Stearns and others. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.  Rpt. New York: BARTLEBY.COM, 2002.  Bartleby.com. 2003.  5 Jan. 2004 <http://www.bartleby.com/67/1500.html>.

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Whale Rider (3): Maori History - Western Ways of Knowing the Maori & Maori History
URL of this webpage: http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum210/whalerider/maorihistory.html
Last updated: 18 September 2006