The Maori are the native people of New Zealand. Today they are an important part of modern New Zealand that draws heavily from the two main cultures - European (mostly British) and Maori. One of the main centers for learning about the Maori is in the North Island right in the stunningly picturesque Bay of Islands.

One can also learn about the Maori and other Polynesian peoples at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu in Hawaii (including, of course, Hawaii's native history).

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The Origin And History Of Maori

  • Official Language: Maori (Along With English) Is An Official Language of New Zealand

The Maori originated from East Polynesia arriving in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages roughly between 1320 and 1350 years ago. Today they are related to other Polynesian peoples like Tahitians, Tongans, Samoans, and Native Hawaiians.

  • Group: They Are Part Of The Polynesian Group
  • Settled: They Settled New Zealand around 700 Years Ago

They were then cut off from the other Polynesian peoples and their language, mythology, and arts evolved independently. By the time Europeans first arrived in 1642 as part of Abel Tasmans' exploration, they had developed their own distinctive culture. The British under Captian Cook first arrived in 1769 and in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed with the British.

  • Treaty Of Waitangi: The Treaty That Made The Maori British Subjects and Guaranteed Maori Rights

The Treaty remains a fundamental document binding the two cultures today. It was signed when the Maori petitioned the British for protection against French incursion. The treaty recognized Maori ownership of their lands and gave them the rights of British subjects.

  • Population: 775,000 (With About Half Identifying As both Maori and European)
  • Percentage: About 16.5% of The Total Population
  • Maori Language: Spoken to Some Extent by around 20% of All Maori

Related: Here's How The Diversity Of Auckland, New Zealand Won It The 'Best City To Visit In 2022

Visit The Treaty Of Waitangi Grounds

One of the main places to learn about the Maori is at the historic Treaty of Waitangi Grounds in the far north of the country. Here one can see Maori cultural performances with the Te Pitowhenua - the resident Maori performing arts group.

They deliver a high-energy show that leaves their audience spellbound. One can enjoy an authentic live cultural performance that begins with a traditional wero (a greeting challenge), this is followed by a powhiri (a welcome), and then the full cultural performance.

The performance includes poi (songs, and the world-famous haka (war dance), the venue is a Te Whare Runanga (a traditional carved meeting house).

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Note: Guests Are Asked Not To Take Videos During the Performance

After the show, there is an opportunity to meet the performers, ask questions, and take pics with them.

  • Kapa Haka: The Traditional Maori Performing Arts that has Been Handed Down from Generation To Generation

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are not only one of the most important locations in New Zealand for learning about Maori history. They are also one of the most historic and important locations for the founding of modern New Zealand and are an outdoor museum. This is where the first New Zealand government was built and some of the buildings are still there today.

One can see the original Treaty House that was pre-cut in Sydney in Australia and then shipped and assembled in New Zealand in 1834.

Related: 20 Beautiful Places In New Zealand Even Foreigners Are Jealous Of

Rotorua - New Zealand's Maori Cultural Capital

Rotorua is a small stunning city on the North Island famous for two things. It is famous for its geologically active landscapes, the smell of sulfur, boiling mud, and other geothermal attractions. It is also famous as the Maori culture capital of New Zealand.

  • Rotorua: Famous For Geothermal Wonderlands and Maori Culture

Rotorua is one of the best or perhaps the best place to have a wider experience of the traditions customs, practices, and beliefs of the Maori.

  • Visit: Tamaki Maori Cultural Village
  • The Village: 21 Families Live in The Living Village Museum

There are a number of Maori cultural tours and performances here at the Tamaki Maori Cultural Village. While the Tamaki Cultural Village is the main Maori attraction here, there are more Maori attractions and other activities here. They are listed on Rotorua's website (also one can see the many other things to see and experience in this stunning town.

An activity offered here that is not offered at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is having a traditional dinner with the Maori. Enjoy a traditional hangi (steam-cooked meal) straight out of the ground.

There are guided walking tours through the historic living Maori village that will give one a close-up and personal insight into the people who've lived in this geothermal area for hundreds of years.

Next: Hobbiton Is On New Zealand's North Island, And This Is Everything You Need To Know Before You Go