Twenty years ago, Te Reo Maori (the Maori language) was a language at risk with little chance of recovery. Increasingly, it was being spoken mostly by the kaumatua (elders) and in some of the universities.
Today, the language still has a fragile hold in Maori society as a whole, but every year now there are several thousand young children entering the education system already fluent in the language and tikanga (customs) of their ancestors. In their hands will rest the future of Te Reo Maori.
The Legends and History of the Maori People
The Legends and History of the Maori People of New Zealand
The term “Maori” refers the native Polynesian peoples of New Zealand. They are, hence, related to the native peoples of Samoa, Hawaii and the Polynesian Islands of the South Pacific. They constitute about 10% of the total population of New Zealand. Their mother tongue belies their Polynesian origins that are similar to other Polynesian languages such as Hawaiian and Tahitian. The ancestors of the Maori are widely believed to have arrived in New Zealand sometime before the 13th century after Christ.
First contact was made with the Maori by the outside world by able Dutch navigator and explorer Abel Tasman. Needless to say, the first contact wasn’t a friendly one. But it was the exploits of British adventurer Captain James Cook which made peace with the Maori tribes ensuring that European visits in the 1800s were without incident.
With the arrival of the Europeans into New Zealand, the impact on the native Maori population was an adverse one with disease ravaging the native populations drastically.
The Europeans gained a firm foothold in New Zealand only with the signing of the famous Treaty of Waitangi. In return for British sovereignty over New Zealand, the Maoris were granted citizenship of the British Isles and land rights.
However, the terms of the treaty as they relate to land rights are currently under dispute and the New Zealand is putting in a genuine effort to redress the wrongs of Maori lands that were seized illegally. This echoes the Mabo decision across the Tasman straits.
In modern times, the Maori population has doubled its numbers since the first arrival of the Europeans. They prefer to live in the warmer climate of the North Island but they are found all over New Zealand.
The Maori are a people who are true survivors and they have shown resilience in the face of adversity. They live in a modern country, but their traditions are centuries old and their survival enriches the cultural fabric of the country that is New Zealand.
The Origins of the Maori
The Origins of the Maori people of New Zealand
The legends of the Maori have it that their ancestors came by sea from a land called “Hawaiki”. The Maoris first arrived in New Zealand around a thousand years ago to a land that was shaped by volcanism and hid its highest mountain peaks in majestic snow. The Maoris called this beautiful land “Aotearoa”, which means the Land of the Long White Clouds.
The Maoris have many ideas about their place of origin. They commonly agree that “Hawaiki” may be referring to Hawaii or to a place thereabouts. Most scholars of Maori culture agree that the ancestors of the Maori came via South East Asia from somewhere in China.
Others argue that the Land of the Long White Clouds may have been discovered by accident when they were blown of their voyage routes. However, there is compelling evidence to disprove otherwise this notion since the Maori possessed ancient knowledge of navigation.
The Maori Culture and Traditions
The Maori Culture and Traditions
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, all storytelling and literature was oral in nature and recital. The most widely k known Maori traditions is the “Haka”, or the war dance.
This ceremony was designed to intimidate the enemy prior to the commencement of war but it now has more sportive purpose. The dance is now the chant of the almighty All Blacks New Zealand rugby team.
Another striking aspect of the Maori culture is the intricate tattoos that mark the Maori. Full-faced tattoo was traditionally reserved for men and the practice is now increasingly becoming common as the Maori fight to preserve the old ways.
The Maori cooking is referred to as Hangi or earthen cooking. Food is cooked over hot stones and covered with earth to prevent the heat from escaping. This produces steamed food cooked in an earth oven.
Maori Language New Zealand
AUT University has unveiled the Te Reo Maori programs for that can be studied under three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. The tutorial is interspersed with updated technological illustrations where fun and entertainment rule the roost. To know about the New Zealand indigenous language and culture learning program, inform us.