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By James Heremaia

New Zealand Maori Culture

The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. Arriving in New Zealand around 950ad, the Māori came to New Zealand from Hawaiki (Polynesia). In 1642 a Dutch explorer named Abel Tasman arrived in New Zealand, followed by the British explorer James Cook in 1769. The early 1800's saw large numbers of British as well as American and European's start to immigrate to New Zealand. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on the 6th of February 1840 and was the start of a partnership between the Māori and the British Crown.

Māori Today

Despite beliefs that Māori people still live in huts without the modern conveniences of today's world, this is incorrect. Māori live the same way as the rest of New Zealand's diverse population.
Many visitors to New Zealand will participate in some kind of Māori cultural experience. Often these take place at an attraction such as Mitai Māori Village, where visitors are introduced to Māori culture through song, dance and a traditional Hangi meal. In order to show respect for your hosts please observe the following rules:

  • Remove shoes before entering a wharenui (meeting place)
  • Don't take food and drink into a wharenui
  • During a Powhiri don't talk, laugh or make eye contact with the warriors

Māori Language

A lot of New Zealander's use Māori language in their everyday lives. Words that you are likely to hear while in New Zealand are:

Kia Ora - Hello
Haere mai - Welcome/come
Mōrena - good morning
Ka kite anō - goodbye
Hāngī - traditional meal cooked underground
Hongi - a way of greeting people where noses are pressed together
Kei te pēhea a koi - how are you
Kei te pai - I am well
Wharepaku - toilet
Kia Tūpato - be careful
Whānau - family