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Less than 250 years ago New Zealand’s population was to 100 per cent Maori. In modern times they only cover 12 per cent of the population and live mainly on the North Island; they make up for 20 per cent in the Waikato region, where I live. Many Kiwis have some Maori blood in them. If you are to 1/64 a Maori you can apply for a Maori stipendium to finance your studies.

 

Waikato is also known as the King Country. Land issues with settlers urged the tribes to unite under one king; today the Maori King still resides within an hours drive from here.

 

For a long time national historians described the faith of the Maoris as fatal impact; Social Darwinist concepts saw the new European settlers as ‘the fittest‘. It was believed that one day the Maori culture would be extinguished; the descendents of the Maoris would turn into darker skinned Europeans. Only since the 1970s scholars started questioning the fatal impact by suggesting a form of Maori agency; Maoris actually executing power in their contact with European settlers.

 

Is there culture without counterculture? Contrast seems essential for defining things: The Maori only became Maori in the 18th century through their contact with Europeans, or Pakeha. Maori as such means 'normal'. They identify themselves as tangata whenua, people of the land, expressessing spiritual concepts in their relationship to the land.

 

Maoris came from Polynesia before arriving in Aotearoa (New Zealand). This happened around the year 1300, making New Zealand one of the last places in the world to be reached by humans. They arrived in 7 different Wakas (canoes). Today Maori  still introduce themselves formally by mentioning the name of the canoe with which ther decendents arrived. It is a vital part of their Whakapapa (genealogy).

 

Maoir tribes first settled in the Northlands. Growth of population and decline of resources send them southward. Tribes practiced utu among each other (trade without cash-economy, linked to spiritual concepts; can also be revenge).

 

Te reo Maori, the language of the Maori, is strongly connected to cultural concepts. Two words give significant insights into the Maori perception of time: Muri means “behind” and mua is “ahead” . When Maoris speak of the future, they speak of muri - the future lies behind. One can not see it, one can only walk backwards into it. Mua is the past. Because the past already happened, it went ahead. So lets look at things we can see. Lets look ahead, at that what already happened...

 

At the beginning Io dwelled in nothingness, in te kore. Once he started stirring, his movement inevitably lead to other movements which started to create things. Different shades of darkness appeared; the great night was divided into various phases. Next Io brightened up the night, te po, with a soft light, and twilight came into being. Then Io created nga Hawaiiki, the homelands. After that the first subordinate Gods came into being: Ranginui (sky), the male principle, and Papatuanuku, the female (the earth). Ranginui descended from the sky to cohabit with Papatuanuku. Their firstborn Tane forcefully seperated the earth-mother and the sky-father so that humans could dwell in the space between them.

 

Much later Maui crippled the sun with a jawbone; henceforth the sun could only move slowly across the sky. This gave humans enough time to get on with daily affairs like blogging.




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