Maori Society Essay

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Maori Culture Summary Origin The research shows that the direct ancestors of the Maori arrived from somewhere in east Polynesia between 700-1000 years ago. Their arrival in Aotearoa, or New Zealand was the last step in a much bigger and more ancient movement of people across the Pacific from Southeast Asia from about 5-7000 years ago that saw every island in Oceania that is capable of sustaining human life colonized. New Zealand is sometimes described, in fact, as being the last major piece of real estate in the entire world (with the exception of Antarctica) to be settled by humans. Political Order/Family Like all of the other Polynesian cultures, Maori culture has many unique features, but it is also typically Polynesian in numerous ways. This is hardly surprising when Maori culture is understood to have developed in isolation in New Zealand out of an ancestral east Polynesian cultural base. Anthropologists describe the cultures of Polynesia as being very "hierarchical." Conceptually, this means that the cultures were shaped like a pyramid where the chief sits at the top of the pyramid, lesser chiefs in layers in the middle and people who were not chiefs at the bottom. Genealogy and kinship underpinned all traditional Polynesian culture, society and politics — including that of the Maori. Among Maori, genealogies were compared and ranked against each other to determine a person's position in the hierarchy. The ranking was based on the ability of people to trace ancestry back to a particular ancestor that lived in the past. Often these were the original ancestors after whom tribes (iwi) and sub-tribes (hapu) were named. For the most part, the ability to trace ancestry back to the founding ancestor of the group through the oldest male line was considered to be more significant than tracing descent in either a female line or through younger brothers. In
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