Maori culture is a fundamental part of the oceanic country. Not only because of its large population, but also because of its representative traditions. To say New Zealand is to say Maori for many visitors and even for many locals.
The New Zealand government places a strong emphasis on the preservation and continuity of Maori traditions under a programme that tries to safeguard this culture in its three main facets: the physical (establishments, places), the natural (mountains, natural resources) and the intangible (traditions). Let's look at some more facts.
Marae: the place
This is the name given to the enclosed spaces belonging to a tribe. This is where you can find the Maori at their best, as it is a Maori-only territory. In the maraes it is common to see typical dances, food, celebrations and spaces of this New Zealand culture. It is worth mentioning that you can visit the marae but only in private groups with previous appointments and access.
Powhiri: the welcome
Opening the gates of their land is a Maori tradition. Powhiri is a ritual to welcome anyone arriving at a marae. The ritual begins with a challenge (nothing to be scared of) by a warrior to certify that the person arriving is arriving in peace. This is followed by maori calls and speeches and ends with gifts and food.
Hongi: the greeting
A well-known symbol of this tradition is the nose-to-nose and face-to-face greeting. Handshakes are not so popular in this culture, which prefers closer contact. This tradition that goes back to the origins of the culture allows people to connect and breathe the air of life together.
Food is very important to Maori. The special thing about this food is that it is cooked underground with a method of cooking on embers. In a hole that is specially made for cooking, the embers are placed and the food is placed on top. In ancient times the food was wrapped in foil, but nowadays aluminium foil or other materials are used. This form of cooking is ideal for feeding large numbers of people and thus creating a meeting place for the inhabitants of the marae.
Tā Moko: the tattoos
We can easily distinguish a New Zealand Maori by their physical features but also by their traditional tattoos. These tribal tattoos, which are immortalised on the skin of Maori people, have an undertone of unconditional attachment to their culture. They also represent part of the person's history and their link to Maori.
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