Maori People of The Land

The Maori people of the land are native to Aotearoa. They are of Polynesian origin and encompass about fourteen percent of the population of New Zealand.

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pou whenua at Karamatura Valley
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The Landing of Maori People

Archaeological findings let assume that migrating Polynesians landed on the shore within the eighth and twelfth century. It is thought that the Maori intentionally set out to find a new island to settle. That is probably why they brought with them various plants and vegetables that are now traditional to New Zealand. Amongst them were taro, yam, gourd, and kumara including also animals like rats and dogs.

Apart from food and animals the migrants brought an over centuries developed Maori culture, their own language, craftsmanship, music, games, and weapons. After their arrival these brave seafarers faced climatic and resource challenges to secure their survival.

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The New Zealand climate was much harsher than they were used to. With a larger, colder, and more forested land they had to refine their house building technique and how they were dressed.  At the same time sourcing new foods was necessary to have always enough supply to cook their traditional hangi.

They learned to build stronger and more resistant homes and Maori meeting houses; work greenstone and other necessities were made with the vast supply of timber that was all around them.

Creating clothing to protect them against the cold demanded new to acquire skills. Maori people used New Zealand flax for clothing and ropes.

New quarries for food supply were found. The New Zealand moa was one of their main quarries until their extinction in 1750. Moas were very large flightless birds and part of the kiwi bird family. Gradually they adapted to a new lifestyle that was exclusively their own. The Maori emigrants adjusted well to the new conditions of the land and changed a lot over time. 

The first European to arrive in New Zealand was Dutch navigator Abel Tasman. His encounter with the Maori ppopulation was not so pleasant. Four members of his crew died in a savage attack in 1642.

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Another European who came a little while after Abel was the British explorer Captain James Cook . He had a friendlier meeting with the Maoris. Diseases were imported by European explorer and the Maori population started to decline to about 100,000.

In 1840 the Britains sought to find a way to regulate landownership and the country in form of the treaty of Waitangi. A document that was signed by most of the Maori chiefs, making them live by the British rule. These rules often contradicted everything Maori culture stands for and therefore leaves open what each party understood the treaty meant.


Guest Author: Mariam Cisse webmaster of Easy Healthy Recipes for Kids.com

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Wooden Maori Sculptures


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