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History of the Maori people in New Zealand

Updated on January 4, 2012

The original home of the Maori

The homeland of the Maori was the legendary Hawaiki. Hawaiki was crowded resulting in famine and warfare. The Maori were skilled navigators this enabled them to travel long distances. A number of canoes left the shores of Hawaiki and navigated their way to the shores of New Zealand. This lens is a glimpse of some of historical events that took place in New Zealand.

The great migration

The Maori are the indigenous people of

New Zealand. Around the nineteenth century New Zealand was colonized. After colonization Maori had to adapt to the changes imposed on them by the colonists. Tension would erupt between them occasionally, and at times war broke out, occassionally, the Maori were defenseless against many of the diseases that were brought in by the colonists. There are numerous dimensions to Maori culture some practices are discussed. The United Nations have been instrumental in facilitating social equalities of the Maori and Indigenous people around the world.

The Treaty of Waitangi

In 1837 the British decided to colonize New Zealand. On 6 February 1840 a treaty was drawn up to protect the lands of the Maori and to bring peace and good will. And to cede to the Queen of England. Five hundred Maori chiefs were present. and two hundred Pakeha. Only 40 signed at the congregation later on in September another five hundred signatures were gathered throughout the country. In 1842 the British crown had authority in the country. The government and the Maori had disputes over the land. Maori land wars broke out, the Maori suffered many casualties. The battle field was overcome with the Pakeha or British muskets. Many Maori lost their land. In 1846 the Maori were required to register their land and if unregistered it would be deemed crown property. The British were attempting to apply the 'divide and rule' tactic.

Around 1850 Maori responded to the seizure of their tribal land to the Crown. In 1852 Tamihana Te Rauparaha visited Queen Victoria, to gain an equal working partnership between the Crown and Maori. Other Tribes had lost all confidence in the Crown and would not support Tamihana's petition. In 1857 Maori appointed a Maori king - Potatau Te Wherowhero. The northern tribes did not participate. The King movement or Kingitanga was established in an attempt to stop alienations from their tribal lands. The Maori King had no legal power and had a non-constitutional role with the crown.

Today, multiculturalism is evident in New Zealand. Maori have retained much of their cultural heritage; the term that describes their existence in New Zealand is pluralism

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Maori designed pendants are stunning. Buy one for yourself or for someone special ;)


In 1870 Parihaka was the largest village in the country. It was considered nationally the center of spiritual, political and cultural dynamics. Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti O Rongomai were the leaders of the village. Christianity and Maori beliefs were the guiding principles in their lives. They condemned violence and greed. And they were committed to protecting their ancestral land. There was a real threat that they could lose their home, assets and land.

The British thought they were obsessive. Surveyors pegs were put into their land, road builders were cutting roads, both were trespassing on private land. British soldiers exiled hundreds of youth to the South Island to forced labour. Barricades were erected by the Maori to keep the trespasses out.

In 1881 fifteen-hundred British troops marched to take Parihaka. No violence was used against the troops. Women and girls were raped resulting in an outbreak of syphilis, people from other areas were thrown out. The whole village was torn down. Prisoners were treated harshly and exiled to the South Island. The two leaders and other residents were exiled to the South Island they were imprisoned for 19 years.

Kiri Te Kanawa - Tarakihi

Black November

In 1918 a pandemic influenza erupted in November. A total of 8,573 died. The population in

New Zealand was 1,150,509. In November 1918, Medical Health Authorities ordered schools, theaters and generally any public gathering places to close. Chemist hours were extended and no spitting was allowed in public places. The health risks were higher in towns and cities. The steam ships that entered the port were suspected of carrying the influenza with them. At this time the first world war had ended this time proved to be fatal for Pakeha and especially Maori. People were streaming into towns to celebrate at the carnival which lasted a week. In mid-November the influenza peaked. Nurses became sick so the hospital had to rely on volunteers to tend the sick. The Maori suffered a huge mortality rate of 2,160 seven times more than the Pakeha.

The Haka

There numerous styles of haka. The word haka means dance. The most well known haka is Ka Mate. In 1820 a chief and warrior Te Rauparaha composed Ka Mate. He was warring with his neighbours and had to flee his enemies. Te Rauparaha asked Te Wharangi to hide him. He hid in a kumara pit and and Te Wharerangi's wife Te Rangikoaea sat over the pit. Usually a male would not put himself in that position, however, he wanted to save his life. His pursuers arrived, in the pit he murmured, ka mate, ka mate - I will die, I will die. Te Wharerangi indicated that he went to Rangipo, again in the pit Te Rauparaha murmured, ka ora ka, ora - I live, I live. Finally, his pursuers departed. Te Rauparaha emerged from the pit jubilant

Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!- I die! I die! I live! I live!

Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora! -I die! I die! I live! I live!

Tenei te tangata puhuru huru -This is the hairy man

Nana nei i tiki mai -Who fetched the sun

Whakawhiti te ra- And caused it to shine again

A upa ... ne! ka upa ... ne!- One upward step! Another upward step!

A upane kaupane whiti te ra! -An upward step, another ... the sun shines!!

Hi! -End

Ka mate haka

Ta moko - traditional body tattooing

The tattoo reflects rank, status and cultural identity of the wearer. The body was tattooed with chisels tattooed by a specialist. The men are tattooed on most parts of the body: face, buttocks, thighs and arms. On the women chin and lips.

The history of how the tattooing began surrounds a love story. Niwareka a beautiful princess lived in the underworld with her family. Mataoroa was from the world above. He visited the underworld and met Niwareka they fell in love, and she went with Mataoroa to the world above to live. Mataoroa's tattoos were painted on. Mataoroa mistreated Niwareka she was upset and went home to her family. After some time Mataoroa went to the underworld to bring back Niwareka. She ignored him. When he came into her community, their tattoos were chiseled, people laughed at his painted tattoos and had smeared. He went and asked his father-in-law if he would teach him ta moko. His father-in-law agreed, his wife was watching her husband and started to admire him for learning ta moko. He finally learnt everything; he decided to return to the world above. His wife went with him and the knowledge of ta moko.

And much, much more ;)

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The Treaty of Waitangi is not taught in elementary Schools, although, it is taught in higher education studies, only if a student is studying New Zealand history. The Maori language is the second official language in New Zealand and, today, government institutions are mindful of Maori protocol during ongoing Treaty negotiations with Maori. Parihaka is one description of land wars between the British and the Maori were defenceless against the muskets, however, they refused to give up and maintained a united front to the bitter end. The haka is well known across the world and marks the cultural heritage of the Maori and New Zealanders. Maori were particularly vulnerable to the plague. They greeted each other with hugs etc and that is why the pandemic may have spread quickly throughout the Maori community. Tattooing or Ta Moko is an ancient practice and is still prevalent today. Contemporary designs have been developed over time and is increasingly popular among Maori.

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    • literal profile image


      4 years ago from Aotearoa

      this is my lens and I am requesting that it be added to my hubs. Squidoo blocked my access and have now deleted a number of lenses.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I found this interesting and a good read. Thank you for sharing.

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    • Inkhand profile image


      6 years ago

      It's fascinating learning about the history of the Maori people, great lens.

    • Iain84 profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent article. Very well written and researched. Thanks!

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      7 years ago

      But wanna remark on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the subject material is rattling great

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    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      7 years ago

      Fascinating read and welcome to Squidoo.

    • dwnovacek profile image


      7 years ago

      Until reading your lens I knew absolutely nothing about the Maori people. Now I can't wait to learn more. Angel Blessings to you, my friend!

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      7 years ago

      thank you for sharing this lens. now, i know more about the maori people. i saw prince charles exchanging nose-to-nose greetings with a maori. am i right?

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We have some of the Maori pendants given by a Maori friend. We will treasure them. Enjoyed reading this.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We have some of the Maori pendants given by a Maori friend. We will treasure them. Enjoyed reading this.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Excellent lens - I love learning new things about cultures and people around the worl!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      7 years ago

      Wonderful. I always think of the movie "Whale Rider" When I think of this.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world.

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      7 years ago

      I donât know if we each have a destiny, or if weâre all just floating around accidentalï¼like on a breeze.

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    • fugeecat lm profile image

      fugeecat lm 

      7 years ago

      This is a really interesting lens I never knew so many things about the Maori

    • mariaamoroso profile image


      7 years ago from Sweden

      Beautiful people with wonderful laws - They condemned violence and greed. Imagine how wise that is. Thanks for a lovely lens.


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