New Zealand’s Culture

New Zealand is quite possibly the best example of two cultures fusing into one and learning how to co-exist and develop together.

maori 2The descendants of the British settlers and the Maori quickly realized that given the superior technology of the former and the ferocity and knowledge of the harsh and rugged terrain of the latter, continued war and skirmishing would benefit neither party.

The native Maori also traded with Europeans before the British arrived to settle for good and the native musket wars decimated the population. These inter-tribe wars, coupled with disease, reduced the indigenous population by about 40 per cent when compared to pre-European contact.

The indigenous culture declined in the 1900s as many Maori were discouraged from practicing their rituals – handed down from their roots in East Polynesia. They were also told to use English, not their own language, and they were also encouraged to adopt Christianity as a religion.

But in the past few decades, the indigenous culture has been revived, albeit in a modern way and with aspects of British culture woven in.

Traditional wood carving and tattooing is very much alive and well and the world’s most prominent Polynesian festival – Pasifika – is held every year in Auckland to celebrate all aspects of the culture including acting, music, traditional arts and crafts and warrior culture.

The most prominent form of Maori art is that of figuring sculpting which normally represent warriors, ancestor and deities or characters from Maori legends. They take two forms, wither realistic, or grotesque.

That being said, the Maori people have a long history of painting, with shark fat and ocher being mixed together to make the paint. The Maori also have a distinct architectural style, which was never designed to be permanent. A tribe’s meeting hut would be rebuilt to cope with summer or winter. The most prominent form of visual art is that of traditional tribal tattoos, which a whole section is dedicated to on another web page.

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