Mariam Amini
The Māori - a look into New Zealand’s indigenous Polynesian tribe
The Māori - a look into New Zealand’s indigenous Polynesian tribe
Mariam Amini

It is believed that the Māori arrived in New Zealand more than 1000 years ago from Hawaiki, the mythical homeland of all Polynesians.

Nowadays, only one in seven New Zealanders identify as Māori, yet their ancestry and heritage remains as integral as ever to the story of this island country.

The government’s recent announcement of a new school curriculum that includes Māori history marks a renewed recognition of the traditions and culture of this indigenous Polynesian tribe.

Ending a system that permitted schools to choose how these subjects are taught, the proposed set course will introduce the arrival of Māori in New Zealand.

It will also incorporate the timeline of British colonisation, teaching children about the founding Treaty of Waitangi between the Māori and British populations.

Prime Minister Jacina Adern praised the proposals, which are due to be implemented next year, stating: “Let us teach it, let us learn it and let us remember it. Let us share our history with every student in every school”.

A draft of the course has been released, with public feedback encouraged. But while supporters commend its transparency of the atrocities of British Empire, critics claim the new syllabus fails to offer a balanced portrayal and requires revision.

The Māori account for roughly 15% of New Zealand’s population. Much of their land was appropriated following colonisation.

Travellers to New Zealand eager to learn more can visit cultural sites such as the Manea Footprints of Kupe, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and the Māori Arts & Crafts Institute in Rotorua.

Interactive experiences such as language sessions and cooking classes are also arrangable, and help preserve Māori culture further by allowing tourists to directly engage with the local community, and to learn more about the history of the place they are visiting firsthand.

The country also just celebrated Waitangi Day, which marks the anniversary of the initial signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840.

Those visiting Waitangi during this time can expect Māori ceremonies, music, and parades, as communities and people of all backgrounds come together to celebrate the national day of New Zealand.

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