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Table of Contents
Māori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa, New Zealand. The Māori are a Polynesian people, most closely related to eastern Polynesians.
See the fact file below for more information on the Māori culture or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Māori Culture worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The early settlement of New Zealand was during the Archaic period.
- The Māori established small settlements along the coast and inland.
Their journey to New Zealand occurred in a number of epic waka (canoe) voyages over a significant period of time.
- The early settlers did not call themselves Māori until the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand.
- This period saw a warfare culture emerge with many battles between tribes. These battles were fought hand-to-hand with Māori weapons.
Each battle was usually preceded by a war dance called the Haka, which is meant to intimidate the enemy.
- Early European contact with the Māori includes Abel Tasman in 1642 and Captain James Cook in 1769.
- They also encountered Christian missionaries, deserters from ships, and escaped convicts from Australia.
- By 1830, many Europeans were living among the indigenous people of New Zealand.
- The tribe (iwi) was a large political and territorially-based social unit.
- The leader of the tribe was called the ariki.
- The members shared common descent and the tribe was named from their ancestor.
- The basic role of an iwi was to protect the interests of individuals.
- There is also a sub-tribe (hapu), which is a localized descent group; it was a unit with strong ties.
- Hapu had its functions like the control and defense of a definite territory, sometimes even by war against any other group.
- The lands of the sub-tribe was divided into sections; each of them was controlled by small social units called whanau meaning “to give a birth.”
- It was a basic element of Māori society into which an individual was born and socialized in three or four generations. They lived together in grouped houses.
- There were three social strata: gentry (rangatira), commoners (tauwareware), and slaves (taurekareka).
- An individual’s place within society was signified by their garments and tattoos. People of high social status were always tattooed while those with no tattoos were considered worthless.
- The Māori’s social life was based on mythology and traditions inherited from their ancestors.
- Tribal mythology tells of two gods, the Sky Father (Rangi) and the Earth Mother (Papa) who created plants, animals, and men.
- They gave birth to several male gods. One of them was the god Tane who abandoned his parents and stained the earth red with Rangi’s blood from which all nature originated.
- The Māori believed that everything had a definite soul (wairua) and a liquid concept of spiritual “essence” (mana).
- Mana was associated with nobility, power, influence, charisma, authority, and prestige. Things which had these became sacred or tapu in the native language.
- Anything could become tapu if it had been touched by the supernatural order.
- Mana was stronger in men than in women, and males were considered sacred.
- Slaves were important workers and could be used as human sacrifices by shedding their blood.
- The word means “common” or “ordinary”.
- It is said that when the first settlers asked the inhabitants who they were, they replied “tangata Māori” which means ordinary people.
- Until World War II, most native people spoke Te Reo as their first language.
- From the 20th century, the number of speakers of Te Reo began to decline.
- Young people were abused for speaking their language and generations of non-Māori speakers emerged, increasing the number of New Zealanders speaking English.
- But, by the 1980s, the locals began working to recover Te Reo. Te Kōhanga Reo, which serves to promote the use of Te Reo, was established in 1982.
MĀORI ART and TATTOOING
- Māoris used materials such as bone, wood, flax, feathers, pounamu (greenstone), pāua (abalone), and shell to construct their own tools for scraping, carving, and painting.
- Red, black, and white were the most commonly-used colors and each of them had symbolic meaning.
- Māori visual art consists mostly of four forms: carving, tattooing (ta moko), weaving, and painting.
- The color red is a symbol of mana and is used in the decoration of important items such as the buildings and structures around a marae (courtyard) and waka (canoes).
- Wood carvings were used to decorate houses, fence poles, weapons, and other objects.
- Carving was traditionally performed by men only.
- Ta moko (Māori tattoo) is a core component of Māori culture and an outward expression of commitment and respect.
- The skin is carved by uhi (chisels) instead of being punctured with needles. This leaves the skin with textured grooves, rather than the smooth surface of a normal tattoo.
- Ta moko is performed by a tohunga ta moko (tattoo expert) and the practice is considered a tapu (sacred) ritual.
- The design of each moko is unique to the wearer and conveys information about the wearer.
- Mokos show their their genealogy, tribal affiliations, status, and achievements.
Māori Culture Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Māori culture across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Māori culture worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Māori Culture. Māori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa, New Zealand. The Māori are a Polynesian people, most closely related to eastern Polynesians.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
Te Reo Māori
Link/cite this page
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Link will appear as Māori Culture Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 31, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.