G’day! Did you know that the Maori make up 14% of New Zealand’s population and that their history, language, and traditions are key to Kiwi identity? The Maori are the tangata whenua, the indigenous people of New Zealand. According to Maori legend, they came to New Zealand more than 1000 years ago, from their Polynesian home of Hawaiki. From the ever present Maori art to the haka, you’ll find that Maori culture is present in day-to-day kiwi life- children of all races even learn waiata (Maori songs) and haka early on, as well as many other aspects of the Maori culture.
Kaikoura is one of the many places you can immerse yourself in Maori culture. Kaikoura translates to “meal of crayfish” (Kia- food, koura- crayfish), and it is crayfish that the region has been famous for. According to Maori legend, Maui placed his foot on the peninsula to steady himself, thus ‘fishing-up’ the North Island. If you’re a wildlife lover, Kaikoura is one of the best places to be. Loads of marine life call the coast of Kaikoura their home, including Sperm Whales and Dusky Dolphins! Take an opportunity to swim with the local Dusky Dolphins, and enjoy socializing with these amazing creatures.
Another opportunity to immerse yourself in Maori culture includes visiting a Marae- used for meetings, celebrations, funerals, educational workshops and other important tribal events. Each Marae belongs to a particular tribe or family. Make sure you get to see the haka performed!
The haka is an ancient Maori war dance, traditionally used on the battlefield, as well as when groups came together in peace. If you’re a rugby fan, you may have seen the national rugby team, the All Blacks, perform the Haka before each match- what a sight it is!
While in New Zealand you’ll notice gorgeous greenstone carvings, often used as jewelry. In pre-literate Maori society, designs in greenstone were visual depictions of their life stories. They told stories about their wearer, hinting at personality traits, as well as strengths and weaknesses. Wonder which carving represents your life story?
Make sure you get the chance to see the Waitangi Treaty Grounds- an important New Zealand historical site. In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed here. From the gorgeous grounds outside to the amazing interior, you’ll find yourself enamored by the beauty of Maori culture.
Another great place to discover and learn about Maori culture is the Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum. Here you’ll find the greatest treasures and stories of New Zealand, as well as a unique natural environment, loads of Maori culture, art, heritage, and fascinating history.
Are you ready to start planning your next New Zealand getaway? Talk to a New Zealand specialist today and discover just how wonderful a tailor-made vacation can be, 312-951-8517. Need a little more inspiration for your dream vacation? Click here to check out our other unique destinations!