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Maori Costumes

  • The Maori costume, called kakahu, is woven from the fibres of the flax plant
  • A tiki is generally worn by men and women as a pendant around the neck. It is made of green stone, or New Zealand jade, and is in the form of a foetus
  • The women can also wear mako, or shark-tooth earrings

Maori Dances

  • The poi ball, although spelled like the Hawaiian food poi, is an implement used by women to depict certain facets of their dance
  • There are long poi, usually about 3 feet long, or short poi that may be up to one foot long
  • Historically, the poi consisted of a white pod attached to a length of braided flax fibre
  • The poi are whirled and twirled to simulate the sound of flying birds, of the surf hitting to rocks, and of other common sounds

Maori Origins

  • The Maori trace their origin to the mythological "Hawaiki", which is likely the Society Islands in Central Polynesia
  • Thus, the small island of "Hava'ii" , then native name of Raiatea near Tahiti may well be the Hawiki of Maori myth
  • New Zealand is said to be discovered by Kupe, who may have lived during the mid-tenth century
  • the period of greatest colonization from central Polynesia probably extended from the 12th to 14th century (possibly because of population pressures)


Adjusting to Ancient Maori Life

  • The necessity of adapting to the colder and less benevolent climate of New Zealand wrought profound change to the ancient Maori life.
  • Prior to their arrival on New Zealand, the Maori's consumed bananas, taro, yams, sweet potatoes, coconut palms, fish, domestic pigs and chickens, while the inner bark of the paper mulberry supplied material for what little clothing was needed. Airy thatched dwellings furnished protection against the warm wind and rain
  • because of the more rigorous climate of New Zealand, the aforementioned crops only grew once a year and the domestic animals did not survive the long voyage. Clothing made of wild flax was also needed. Houses had to be made of planks, beams, and heavy thatch.
  • While the climate of New Zealand posed limitations, it also offered opportunities: the dense forests meant that a canoe could be made from a single tree
  • In addition, rich deposits of basalt and jade enable the Maori to manufacture chisels. As a result, the Mori became to foremost wood carvers of Polynesia.
  • agriculture was the chief economic activity and most tribes had 1 dominate food-producing occupation



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