The Maori (1150- ) are the people who lived in New Zealand before the British came. According to their history, they came in several waves between 1150 and the 1300s. There are signs, though, that man has been in New Zealand since 800, though they may not have been Maori.
Today one New Zealander in seven is Maori.
You do not say “Maoris”. It is one Maori, two Maori.
The Maori say they came from the three islands of Hawaiku. No one knows where they are, but most assume that Tahiti is meant: the Maori language is closest to that of Tahiti. Many Maori can tell you what boat their family’s line came to New Zealand on.
The Maori found New Zealand by following the albatross across the seas.
The Maori killed off the Moriori of the South Island. No one is knows if they were Maori or where they came from. They could be an older people who got to New Zealand first.
The Maori brought dogs and rats to New Zealand. Until then most large animals in New Zealand were birds. The largest was the moa, taller than a man. The Maori killed and ate them all.
The Maori wear tattoos: designs on their skin that do not wash off but are there for life. You most often seem them on the arm. In the old days most men had tattoos on their faces.
The Maori could not read. They ate men – not as a daily practice but to celebrate a victory.
In 1642 the first “pakeha” or white man landed: Abel Tasman from the Netherlands. He got into a fight with the Maori and had to leave quickly.
Later the British came. They came in large numbers starting in the 1830s. From 1843 to 1872 they fought a series of land wars against the Maori. By the 1870s the Maori could no longer match the unity and numbers of the British. They lost New Zealand.
Not only did they lose much of their land, they were dying off quickly: they had no natural defence against the diseases of Britain. They almost died out completely.
The British tried to make them into good English-speaking Christians. While most Maori have become English-speaking Christians, they have not become a full part of New Zealand. British feelings about race stand in the way.
Today most Maori are part white, do not know the Maori language and live in the cities of the North Island. By and large they have little money and little education. Apart from the few with a university education, a Maori is two times more likely to be out of work than a white with the same education. Maori are also more likely to be in prison and live on government benefits.
As bad as it has been, it is not nearly as bad as what has gone on in America: One in seven Americans is not a Native American – try one in a hundred. A Maori man is five times more likely to be married to a white woman than is a black man in America.