Māori Culture In New Zealand

7 Things To Know About Māori Culture In New Zealand

“Kia ora!” Maori culture in New Zealand is a key part of Kiwi life,  running deep in daily life here – from the cuisine, language, and locals’ attitudes, to what children learn at school and how the country is governed. Whether you live here or are just visiting, it’s important to understand about the culture and customs here.

Sure, you’re probably already familiar with the famous Haka ceremonial dance (you can thank the All Blacks rugby team for that!), but there’s so much more to Māori. Here’s some interesting things to know to get your started…

Māori Culture In New ZealandHow do these rankings work?

1. Māori Are The Indigenous People of New Zealand Aotearoa

Te Reo (the Māori language) is an official language of the country, along with English and New Zealand Sign Language. In 2013, one in seven people (598,605) in New Zealand were Māori.

Māori Culture In New Zealand

2. They’re Traditionally ‘People of The Land’

Māori lost much of their land through European colonisation and over the past decades many have been compensated for their loss. Now, although many Māori live in urban areas, away from their tribal regions, their culture remains an integral part of their life.

Māori Culture In New Zealand

3. You Might Hear Two Different Names Used for Places in New Zealand

Sometimes you’ll hear people call places by both the Māori name and the English name. Some English names have been officially replaced by Māori, but some people may still use the English name.

4. Music and Dance are a Vital Part of Māori Culture

Māori culture has been passed on from generation to generation through waiata (song), dance and kapa haka (traditional performance) as well as through carvings, weaving, story-telling and reciting genealogies (whakapapa).

Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images/Visit New Zealand

5. Manaakitanga & Kaitiakitanga – The Māori Way of Life

There’s certain customs that are central to how Māori people live day-to-day. Manaakitanga is all about hospitality and kindness. It sums up the act of welcoming and looking after guests.

Kaitiakitanga is the strong sense of respect and guardianship Māori have for the natural environment.

6. Māori Language (Te Reo) Has Been Growing In Use in Recent years

An rising number of Māori words, particularly greetings, are starting to become more commonly spoken by both Māori and non-Māori. You’ll hear New Zealanders everywhere welcoming people with ‘Kia Ora!’.

7. The Best Way to Experience Māori Culture in New Zealand is First-Hand

Maori tourism is really growing, and this is the best way visitors can really experience and understand what it’s all about. You can enjoy walking tours through ancient forests, hunting and fishing, dining and art, and classic cultural shows.

You can see amazing scenery and feast on some of the best food in the country. What’s not to love about that? You’ll soon fall in love with Māori culture!

Image: Graeme Murray
Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

Contact [email protected]

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