What is a Maaori?

WELL FIRSTLY,   Maori are the indigenous people of the country of Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) or New Zealand. Is there a case here for re-naming it Kiwi Land? Just kidding!!

At present the population of New Zealand is nudging the 4.262,900 million mark and those with Maori blood make up about 12 per cent of that number.

That ofcourse is the point – Maori are those who have Maori blood and future estimates are that Maori will make up more that 25 per cent of the country when the growing youth bulge in our numbers  start having babies and more importantly continue to have babies with  pakeha or tauiwi ( foreigners) who ofcourse do not have Maori blood.

But that is just a numbers  argument  about our race. What I believe is a more important question is to ask what is a Maaori and how do they express their culture in their everyday life.

I pose this question at this time because we have famous people – such as our All Blacks who do my ancestor’s Te Rauparaha’s haka and a present an international indigenous face to the world. 

A letter in my metropolitan paper the Dominion last year asked why so few Maori were chosen for the World Cup games. Now with 20/20 hindsight  I can now ask did their ‘exclusion’ contribute to our losing the game against the French. Just kidding once again.

So yes, having the blood is important and right now some of  my (close) relations and from other tribes are getting jobs or Iwi consultative positions because they are Maori.

The last census  asked the person filling out the form – Did they identify as Maori??  It is a good move as many guessed at the numbers in the past. It is interesting too that in the last election some non- Maori openly said they had voted ‘as a Maori’ and there is nothing to stop them ‘choosing’ to do so.

I say this at a time when 47,000 Maori voters (DomPost Aug 7) have been wiped from the general and Maori rolls as enrolment packs have been returned unopened or addresses unknown.

 When I did my Degree in Matauranga Maori – (Maori Knowledge and Customs) we were asked a series of questions about what we did to espress our culture throughout our lives.

Responses were asked to such questions as: How often do you go to your Marae  and help out at hui. In order to pass the paper evidence was requested of at least ten visits to the marae for tangihanga (funerals), weddings, birthdays, fundraising events or tribal hui (or meetings).

It amused me to see these attendances itemised because where I grew up in Otaki going to the marae was normal – not going was unthinkable. So the question was a necesary accademic one where those ‘hours’ spent on a marae showed your committment to the health and well-being of your hapu.

I know most of the ‘ life blood’ ringawera  (workers) on our marae do not need to think about how many hours they put in. The work is voluntary. The hours you put in only what you can considering your job and caring for your own family. But always in the back of your mind is the ‘inner tally’ which only you know about. This is where the utu or reciprosity you owe to other families (in your hapu) who have worked unstintingly to give your beloved whanau member a beautiful tangihanga sendoff. Believe me those ‘hours’ you may never repay and the aroha goes on forever.

So what is a Maaori? It is a person who works on their marae for others and in this way contributes to the future well being of their hapu and iwi.


3 Responses to “What is a Maaori?”

  1. Gary Bedggood Says:

    kia ora, e hoa
    I supposse the spelling of academic is academic in this context??
    I like rthe definition of Maori-ness including the ‘marae-based’ factor.
    That way I think not many pakeha can claim to be indigenous or Maori
    na Gary Pehikuru

  2. I don’t get that. See, my marae is on the East Coast. I was born and raised down here in the Central North Island, residing in Palmerston North. If I add up how often I spend on the marae, I could count the days on one hand. I don’t feel the draw to Te Tai-Rawhiti like others might so I choose not to visit. I’m an urban Maori but I know my roots. Your definition of Maori at the end of this article is stilted and unacceptable because by your definition I’m not Maori at all. I don’t get that. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to pull my name off the Maori Electoral Roll and step completely out of te ao Maori because I feel like I have no reason to be there (because by your definition, I’m not Maori). Shame bey, shame.

  3. kuinirikihana Says:

    Kia ora Jon, he aha ki a koe … I thank you for your comment. You can be as Maori as you want to be – work on a marae, visit it or not. I am not defining anything for you. That is your choice. Why not start a blog yourself. The more Maori bloggers out there the better. naku
    Queenie Rikihana

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