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5 interesting facts about New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people

Since our school implements the renowned New Zealand Curriculum and represents New Zealand’s values and culture, it is our responsibility to introduce our readers to Māori culture, (Tikanga Maori and Te reo - the language), which plays a huge part in New Zealand’s identity and to teach our students to honour Te tiriti Waitangi the Treaty of Waitangi, the founding agreement of N.Z between Maori and the English.

Who are Māori People?

Māori people are the indigenous people of New Zealand, also known as Polynesian indigineous tribes. It is not clear to historians on their original land but it’s a well-known fact that the Māori people arrived in New Zealand in the 1300's and currently make up 15% of the population. The tribes in N.Z are defined by what waka (outrigger) canoe they arrived in on the shores of Aotearoa (the long white cloud) New Zealand. Maori people meet accordingly at their tribal Marae to practise their customs and traditions and to be family. Tangi (funerals) are even held there. Here are 5 interesting facts about New Zealand’s indigineous Māori people:

1. Māori people greet each other by pressing foreheads and noses

Once you meet Māori, forget about handshakes, high fives or hugs. Greeting for Māori is extremely intimate. This cultural aspect allows Māori to unite souls by giving the “breath of life” and it’s called “Hongi” in Māori language.

2. Traditionally Māori people cook their food underground

Once you decide to visit New Zealand make sure to try the traditional Māori food called “Hangi’’. This meal is a combination of raw meat and vegetables which is cooked by heated rocks buried in a pit oven. A bowl of Hangi is placed in the stones with the large fire and then covered with earth until it’s fully cooked.

3. Māori people are the greatest storytellers

Worried about your child’s storytelling competition? Hopefully in your life you may have the opportunity to befriend a Māori person or have a Māori private teacher. Māori people are known as the greatest storytellers because they didn’t have a written language until colonisation in the 1800’s. Their language existed and evolved for centuries and was passed down orally by songs and stories. That’s why you might find a lot of talented storytellers among Māori people.

4. Māori people can tell a social status through a person's tattoo

Did you know that every single Māori tattoo is distinctive? Tattoos were used as communicating symbols between tribes in order to identify a person's family history, social status and affiliation. The tattoos were filed using ‘Ta Moko’ which is a traditional tattoo making process that was inserted into the skin using the shark’s teeth.Even today this skill is still practised and some tribal members of great heritage (rangatira - chiefs) will have moko on their chin and face.

5. Music and dance (Kapahaka) is very important to Māori people

Their stories and heritage are expressed through the performing arts as well as visually in the beautiful kowhaiwhai and tukutuku patterns and whaikaro (carvings) that adorn the Whare-nui the meeting house at the Marae (a place to gather).

Māori is a rich distinctive culture that has the combination of art, oratory and collective performance with a spiritual understanding that is entwined with the meaning of their culture, language and people. The language is considered a taonga (a treasure and one to be cherished and protected). This approach is supported by our school’s teaching method and curriculum. To the point we include Maori celebrations such as Waitangi Day ( the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi) and Matariki (Maori new year), into our program.

To be a part of our small and nurturing family (whanau) and to understand how New Zealand School Jakarta curriculum works, contact us at or call us on +62 813 1196 3782 and we will set up a personal meeting with a member of our academic team.

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