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New Zealand: Maori Culture

The first Maori people are believed to arrive to New Zealand at the very beginning of the 14th century. These settlers lived in small tribes, grew food and hunted. The Europeans began religious mission in the 19th century, bringing Maori their knowledge and Christianity. Unfortunately, several war conflicts were broken out between them and aboriginals lost their lands. After a hundred years Maori started to protest and claim their rights. Those protests were successful – nowadays there live about 600 thousand Maori people in the country, that is the every seventh person. The majority of them dwell on the North Island owing to the warmer climate.

Today their culture is no more the authentic one as it has been influenced by the Europeans since 1800s. Though, a unique mixture of the two cultures was created there. Their tribal structures and councils were rearranged. Now they have a TV channel, a dozen of radio stations, and representatives in the Parliament, business and tourism.Maori-gallery

The culture of these people is very peculiar with a set of strange rituals and customs. Indeed, Maori greeting is a whole event that doesn’t include kisses or hugs but pressing of noses instead.

Maori language is an official one there, along with English and the sign language. Due to this, many places in the state have two different names. For example, New Zealand is called Aotearoa – land of the long white cloud.

Maori art is an important element of their culture. Despite the fact that today, there exists a great variety of materials to be used for creation of the masterpieces, many Maori artists still use the traditional ones: feathers, wood, bones, and shells etc. The predominant colors are red, black and white.

Perhaps, everybody is familiar with Maori tattoos. They are aggressive and cover people’s bodies and faces. Tattoo or ta moko is a cultural identity symbol. All of these signs are unique to some extent as they convey special information about the wearer – his status, genealogy, achievements and more.

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A traditional Maori dance is called haka. Such dances are not always pre-war ones – they are performed by both sexes for various reasons and composed of singing, dancing and facial expressions.

The indigenous New Zealand people celebrate New Year at the end of May, when a cluster of stars called Pleiades appears on the horizon. It is a sign of a new beginning for them.

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