Get to know the fascinating culture of the Māori!

Have you ever encountered the Māori culture? You might have seen on the discovery channel men standing in line, covered with tattoos and beating their chests, while screaming something in a language that is completely different to anything you´ve heard before. It’s captivating, right? The Māori culture is fascinating to witness and its rich traditions play an important part in New Zealand’s identity and soul. Let´s dig a little deeper to find out more about things you probably don´t know about the Māori culture.

Ta Moko – traditional tattoos

A bare chested man looking focused while preforming a traditional war dance in New Zealand.
The Māori people are very prideful of each of their tattoos. Photo by pxhere / CC BY

Ta moko is the name for Māori tattoos and the culture that surrounds it. The design of each Ta moko is unique to the wearer. Traditionally the tattoos identified the Māori who they are by giving out information about the person’s lineage and social position. The Māori take great pride in each of their tattoos and the Ta Moko are an expression of commitment and respect. (New Zealand Geographic. 2018)

Te Reo Māori – the language

A bare chested man with tribal tattoos is holding a spear.
The Māori people are masters at telling stories. Photo by Steve Evans / CC BY

The Māori culture does not have a long tradition of writing. Today the official name of the written language is Te reo Māori. But before the arrival of the first Europeans in the 17th century, all the stories were passed on orally within the Māori tribes or depicted in carvings. All legends were described in a captivating manner. Otherwise, they would not be passed on to the generations to come. This is why the Māori people are some of the best storytellers in the world. (Nzhistory.govt.nz. 2018)

The Hongi – the traditional Māori greeting

Hongi is completely different and maybe a bit frightening to what the western world is used to. Rather than using a handshake to greet each other, the Māori press their noses and foreheads together. This unusual greeting has a deeper meaning than a regular handshake. It signifies the blending of two souls, which makes this a gesture filled with respect for one and other. (TripSavvy. 2018)

You might also be interested in: What to Expect When Moving to New Zealand

The Haka – ancient Māori war dance

The haka dance is often thought to be only a war dance, and this is partly true. It was once used out in battlefields to scare their enemies but there are different kinds of haka depending on the occasions. For example, the haka was also performed during rituals of peace, during funerals or to welcome new visitors to their community. (Newzealand.com. 2018)

Nowadays, the haka dance can be seen before New Zealand’s rugby games by the famous All blacks team, and during Māori ceremonies

A Hangi – the traditional cooking method

Burning wood on the ground during nighttime in New Zealand.
The traditional Māori food has a smokey flavor to it but it tastes different than your typical summer BBQ. Photo by Wil Stewart / CC BY

The word hangi gets easily confused with hongi but they have different meanings. A hangi refers to the traditional method of cooking Māori food. The Māori people believe the earth was the creator of all life. Therefore, traditional Māori food is cooked in a pit under the ground. Meat, fish, chicken or root vegetables are slow-cooked and this results in a smokey aroma, which makes the food taste delicious. (Alves, T. 2018)

Hangi, hongi, moko… it all comes clear once you have experienced the Māori culture first hand. An exciting way to do it is by spending one study abroad semester in New Zealand.

Find out more about studying in New Zealand

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

This article was written by our Digital Marketing Coordinator Fabian! 

Sources used for this blog post:
Maori Culture (Newzealand.com. 2018)
History of the Maori language (Nzhistory.govt.nz. 2018)
A brief history of the Maori Hangi (Alves, T. 2018)
New Zealand’s Maori Hongi (TripSavvy. 2018)
Ta moko (New Zealand Geographic. 2018)

Video copyrights: published on youtube by World Rugby

Latest in our blog

19.07.2019

How to Choose a Study Abroad Destination?

Tips on Choosing the Right Study Abroad Destination In Asia Exchange, we have 7 countries to choose from and a couple of them have numerous…

→ Read more

12.07.2019

How to Save Money?

5 Tips on Saving Money for Your Studies Abroad Is your goal to study abroad and therefore you need to start saving money? There is…

→ Read more

05.07.2019

How to Survive a Megacity?

5 Tips on Surviving a Megacity Megacity: a very large metropolitan area. Megacity can be a challenge, but remember that over 10 million people can…

→ Read more

14.06.2019

HUFS – Meet Asia Exchange´s Partners

“HUFS is the number one global university in South Korea” Seoul is one of the most vibrant and modern megacities in Asia. The city has…

→ Read more

31.05.2019

5 Unique Things You Cannot Miss in Bangkok

A compiled list of what to do in Bangkok.. Bangkok is a fascinating, exciting and incredible city to visit. Apart from all the tourist places…

→ Read more

24.05.2019

How is it to study abroad at Siam University?

Studying Abroad at Siam University: meet Gamze Our former intern Valentin met up with our former Bangkok student Gamze Öztürk. How is it to be…

→ Read more

17.05.2019

These are the things you cannot miss when visiting Shanghai!

Make the most out of your stay in Shanghai! There are so many great things to do and places to visit in Shanghai, that it…

→ Read more

10.05.2019

Samasti Yoga will host the Bali Business Foundation (BBF) program

Samasti Yoga – the founder who became a successful entrepreneur! We can finally announce that Samasti Yoga will be one of the successful companies who…

→ Read more

Get useful tips, inspiring stories and latest news straight to your inbox

Sign up for our monthly newsletter

We'll also send you a free 30+ page University Profiles Guide!
What do you want to receive?

Your information is safe with us. Unsubscribe any time.

Asia Exchange, Vuorikatu 3 L 3 33100 Tampere, Finland
Email: info@asiaexchange.org
Tel: +358 45 322 1230, Mon-Fri, 8am-4pm (GMT +2)
WhatsApp: +358 45 322 1230

Privacy Policy

Site by Atomi

© 2007-2019 Asia Exchange

Want to get weekly inspiration and travel tips straight to your inbox?

Sign up for blog updates!

j-kelly-brito-67565-unsplash

Get notified of new blog posts every week! Just enter your email below.

No thanks