Moriori family c. 1910
|Regions with significant populations|
|Chatham Islands||36 (2013 census)|
|North Island||354 (2013 census)|
|South Island||348 (2013 census)|
|Moriori, English, Māori|
|Christianity including Rātana|
|Related ethnic groups|
| Māori people, other Polynesian peoples,|
The Moriori are the indigenous Polynesian people of the Chatham Islands (Rēkohu in Moriori; Wharekauri in Māori), New Zealand. Moriori originated from Māori settlers from the New Zealand mainland around the year 1500.This was near the time of the shift from the Archaic to Classic Māori culture on the main islands of New Zealand. Oral tradition records multiple waves of migration to the Chatham Islands. Over several centuries these settlers' culture diverged from mainland Māori, developing a distinctive dialect, mythology, artistic expression and way of life.
Polynesians are an ethnolinguistic group of closely related peoples who are native to Polynesia, an expansive region of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean. They trace their origins to Island Southeast Asia and are part of the larger Austronesian ethnolinguistic group with an Urheimat ultimately from Taiwan. They speak the Polynesian languages, a branch of the Oceanic subfamily of the Austronesian language family.
The Chatham Islands are a New Zealand archipelago in the Pacific Ocean about 800 kilometres (500 mi) east of the South Island of New Zealand. The archipelago consists of about ten islands within an approximate 60-kilometre (37 mi) radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Some of these islands, formerly cleared for farming, are now preserved as nature reserves to conserve some of the unique flora and fauna. As of 2013 the islands had a resident population of 600. The local economy depends largely on conservation, tourism, farming, and fishing.
Moriori is an extinct Polynesian language most closely related to New Zealand Māori. It is the native language of the Moriori, the indigenous people of New Zealand's Chatham Islands, an archipelago located east of the South Island.
Early Moriori formed tribal groups based on eastern Polynesian social customs and organisation; later, a prominent pacifist culture emerged (see Nunuku-whenua).This culture made it easier for Taranaki Māori invaders to nearly exterminate them in the 1830s during the Musket Wars. Currently there are around 700 people who identify as Moriori, most of whom no longer live on the Chatham Islands.
Pacifism is opposition to war, militarism, or violence. The word pacifism was coined by the French peace campaigner Émile Arnaud (1864–1921) and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress in Glasgow in 1901. A related term is ahimsa, which is a core philosophy in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. While modern connotations are recent, having been explicated since the 19th century, ancient references abound.
Nunuku-whenua was a Moriori chief and famous sixteenth century pacifist.
Taranaki is a region in the west of New Zealand's North Island. It is named after its main geographical feature, the stratovolcano of Mount Taranaki.
During the late 19th century some prominent anthropologists proposed that Moriori were pre-Māori settlers of mainland New Zealand, and possibly Melanesian in origin.This hypothesis was taught in New Zealand’s schools for most of the 20th century, long after it had fallen from favour among academics.
Since the early 1900s the theory that Polynesians (Māori) were the first ethnic group to settle in New Zealand has been dominant among archaeologists and anthropologists. Before that time and until the 1920s, however, a small group of prominent anthropologists proposed that the Moriori people of the Chatham Islands represented a pre-Māori group of people from Melanesia, who once lived across all of New Zealand. While this idea lost favour among academics it was widely published and incorporated into school textbooks which has extended its life in the popular imagination.
Melanesians are the predominant and indigenous inhabitants of Melanesia, in a wide area from New Guinea to as far east as the islands of Vanuatu and Fiji. Most speak either one of the many languages of the Austronesian language family, especially ones in the Oceanic branch, or from one of the many unrelated families of Papuan languages. Other languages are the several creoles of the region, such as Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu, Solomon Islands Pijin, Bislama, and Papuan Malay.
The Moriori are ethnically Polynesian. They developed a distinct Moriori culture in the Chatham Islands as they adapted to local conditions. Although speculation once suggested that they settled the Chatham Islands directly from the tropical Polynesian islands, current research indicates that ancestral Moriori were Māori Polynesians who emigrated to the Chatham Islands from mainland New Zealand around 1500.
Polynesian culture is the culture of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia who share common traits in language, customs and society. Sequentially, the development of Polynesian culture can be divided into four different historical eras:
The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of waka (canoe) voyages somewhere between 1320 and 1350. Over several centuries in isolation, these settlers developed their own distinctive culture whose language, mythology, crafts and performing arts evolved independently from other eastern Polynesian cultures.
Evidence supporting this theory comes from the characteristics that the Moriori language has in common with the dialect of Māori spoken by the Ngāi Tahu tribe of the South Island, and comparisons of the genealogies of Moriori ("hokopapa") and Māori ("whakapapa"). Prevailing wind patterns in the southern Pacific add to the speculation that the Chatham Islands were the last part of the Pacific to be settled during the period of Polynesian discovery and colonisation.The word Moriori derives from Proto-Polynesian *ma(a)qoli, which has the reconstructed meaning "true, real, genuine". It is cognate with the Māori language word Māori and likely also had the meaning "(ordinary) people".
Ngāi Tahu, or Kāi Tahu, is the principal Māori iwi (tribe) of the southern region of New Zealand. Its takiwā is the largest in New Zealand, and extends from White Bluffs / Te Parinui o Whiti, Mount Mahanga and Kahurangi Point in the north to Stewart Island in the south. The takiwā comprises 18 rūnanga corresponding to traditional settlements.
The South Island, also officially named Te Waipounamu, is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand in surface area; the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), making it the world's 12th-largest island. It has a temperate climate.
Whakapapa, or genealogy, is a fundamental principle in Māori culture. A person reciting their whakapapa proclaims their Māori identity, places themselves in a wider context, and links themselves to land and tribal groupings and the mana of those.
The Chathams are colder and less hospitable than the land the original settlers left behind, and although abundant in resources, these were different from those available where they had come from. The Chathams proved unsuitable for the cultivation of most crops known to Polynesians, and the Moriori adopted a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Food was almost entirely marine-sourced — protein and fat from fish, fur seals, and the fatty young of sea birds. The islands supported about 2,000 people.
A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging. Hunter-gatherer societies stand in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on domesticated species.
Fur seals are any of nine species of pinnipeds belonging to the subfamily Arctocephalinae in the family Otariidae. They are much more closely related to sea lions than true seals, and share with them external ears (pinnae), relatively long and muscular foreflippers, and the ability to walk on all fours. They are marked by their dense underfur, which made them a long-time object of commercial hunting. Eight species belong to the genus Arctocephalus and are found primarily in the Southern Hemisphere, while a ninth species also sometimes called fur seal, the northern fur seal, belongs to a different genus and inhabits the North Pacific.
Lacking resources of cultural significance such as greenstone and plentiful timber, they found outlets for their ritual needs in the carving of dendroglyphs (incisions into tree trunks, called rakau momori). Typically, most Moriori dendroglyphs depict a human form but there are also other patterns depicting fish and birds.Some of these carvings are protected by the JM Barker (Hapupu) Historic Reserve.
As a small and precarious population, Moriori embraced a pacifist culture that rigidly avoided warfare, replacing it with dispute resolution in the form of ritual fighting and conciliation.The ban on warfare and cannibalism is attributed to their ancestor Nunuku-whenua.
...because men get angry and during such anger feel the will to strike, that so they may, but only with a rod the thickness of a thumb, and one stretch of the arms length, and thrash away, but that on an abrasion of the hide, or first sign of blood, all should consider honour satisfied.
This enabled the Moriori to preserve what limited resources they had in their harsh climate, avoiding waste through warfare, such as may have led to catastrophic habitat destruction and population decline on Easter Island. However, when considered as a moral imperative rather than a pragmatic response to circumstances, it also led to their later near-destruction at the hands of invading North Island Māori.
Moriori castrated some male infants in order to control population growth.
The first Europeans to make contact with the Moriori were the crew of HMS Chatham on 29 November 1791, while on its voyage to the northern Pacific from England, via Dusky Sound. The Chatham's captain, William R. Broughton, named the islands after his ship and claimed them for Great Britain. The landing party came to shore in Kaingaroa Harbour on the far Northeast coast of Chatham Island. The Moriori at first retreated into the forest once the Europeans landed. Seventy years later the Europeans would be recalled in Moriori oral tradition as containing the god of fire, given the pipes they were smoking and likely female from the clothes they were wearing. It was this interpretation that led to the men returning from the forest to meet the landing party. A brief period of hostility was quickly calmed by the crew putting gifts on the end of Moriori spears, though attempts at trade were unsuccessful. After exploring the area for water the crew again became fearful of Moriori aggression. Some misunderstanding led to an escalation of violence and one Moriori was shot and killed. HMS Chatham then left the island with all its crew. Both the diary of Broughton and local oral tradition record that both sides regretted the incident and to some extent blamed themselves for overreacting.
It was this regret in part that led to good relations when the next ships arrived in the islands sometime between 1804 and 1807. They were sealers from Sydney and word of their welcome soon gave the Moriori a reputation of being friendly. During this time at least one Moriori visited the New Zealand mainland and returned home with knowledge of the Māori. As more ships came, sealing gangs were also left behind on the islands for months at a time. Sealers and whalers soon made the islands a centre of their activities, competing for resources with the native population. Pigs and potatoes were introduced to the islands. However, the seals that had religious significance and provided food and clothing to the Moriori were all but wiped out.European men intermarried with Moriori. Māori arrivals created their own village at Wharekauri which became the Māori name for the Chatham Islands.
The local population was estimated at about 1,600 in the mid-1830s with about 10% and 20% of the population having died from infectious diseases such as influenza. The effects of influenza were made more serious by the habit, also common to the Māori, of immersion in cold water.[ citation needed ]
In 1835 some displaced Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama, from the Taranaki region, but living in Wellington, invaded the Chathams. On 19 November 1835, the brig Lord Rodney, a hijackedEuropean ship, arrived carrying 500 Māori (men, women and children) with guns, clubs and axes, and loaded with 78 tonnes of potatoes for planting, followed by another load, by the same ship, of 400 more Māori on 5 December 1835. Before the second shipment of people arrived, the invaders killed a 12-year-old girl and hung her flesh on posts. They proceeded to enslave some Moriori and kill and cannibalise others. With the arrival of the second group "parties of warriors armed with muskets, clubs and tomahawks, led by their chiefs, walked through Moriori tribal territories and settlements without warning, permission or greeting. If the districts were wanted by the invaders, they curtly informed the inhabitants that their land had been taken and the Moriori living there were now vassals."
A hui or council of Moriori elders was convened at the settlement called Te Awapatiki. Despite knowing of the Māori predilection for warfare, and despite the admonition by some of the elder chiefs that the principle of Nunuku was not appropriate now, two chiefs — Tapata and Torea — declared that "the law of Nunuku was not a strategy for survival, to be varied as conditions changed; it was a moral imperative."Although this council decided in favour of peace, the invading Māori inferred it was a prelude to war, as was common practice during the Musket Wars. This precipitated a massacre, most complete in the Waitangi area followed by an enslavement of the Moriori survivors.
A Moriori survivor recalled : "[The Māori] commenced to kill us like sheep.... [We] were terrified, fled to the bush, concealed ourselves in holes underground, and in any place to escape our enemies. It was of no avail; we were discovered and killed – men, women and children indiscriminately." A Māori conqueror explained, "We took possession... in accordance with our customs and we caught all the people. Not one escaped....." The invaders ritually killed some 10% of the population, a ritual that included staking out women and children on the beach and leaving them to die in great pain over several days.
During the following enslavement the Māori invaders forbade the speaking of the Moriori language. They forced Moriori to desecrate their sacred sites by urinating and defecating on them.Moriori were forbidden to marry Moriori or Māori, or to have children with each other. Which was different from the customary form of slavery practiced on mainland New Zealand. However, many Moriori women had children by their Māori masters. A small number of Moriori women eventually married either Māori or European men. Some were taken from the Chathams and never returned. In 1842 a small party of Māori and their Moriori slaves migrated to the subantarctic Auckland Islands, surviving for some 20 years on sealing and flax growing. Only 101 Moriori out of a population of about 2,000 were left alive by 1862.
The Moriori were free from slavery by the end of the 1860s which gave them opportunities for self determination, but their small population led to a gradual dilution of their culture. Only a handful of men still understood the Moriori language and culture from before the invasion. The younger generation spoke Māori, while still identifying themselves as Moriori. While attempts were made to record the Moriori culture for posterity, it was generally believed that it would never again be a living way of life. By 1900 there would only be twelve people in the Chatham Islands who identified themselves as Moriori.Although the last Moriori of unmixed ancestry, Tommy Solomon, died in 1933, there are several thousand mixed ancestry Moriori alive today.
In the late 1980s some Moriori descendants made claims against the New Zealand government through the Waitangi Tribunal.The Tribunal is charged with making recommendations on claims brought by Māori relating to actions or omissions of the Crown in the period since 1840, which breach the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi. These claims were the first time the Tribunal had to choose between competing claims of two indigenous groups. The main focus of the claim was the British annexation of the islands in 1842, the inaction of the Government to reports of Moriori being kept in slavery and the awarding of 97% of the islands to Ngati Mutunga in 1870 by the Native Land Court.
In 1992, while the Moriori claim was active, the Sealords fisheries deal ceded a third of New Zealand's fisheries to Māori, but prevented any further treaty fishery claims. This occurred against the backdrop of Māori, Moriori and Pākehā Chatham Islanders all competing for fishing rights, while working together to exclude international and mainland interests. Therefore it was believed that the result of the Tribunals verdict on the ownership of the Chatham Islands may improve the Moriori ability to acquire some of the allotted fishing rights from the Sealords deal. The Moriori claims were heard between May 1994 and March 1996 and the verdict was strongly in favour of the Moriori case.This in turn lead to an $18 million deal between the Crown and Moriori in 2017.
Today, despite the difficulties that the Moriori have faced, their culture is enjoying a renaissance, both in the Chatham Islands and New Zealand's mainland. This has been symbolised with the renewal of the Covenant of Peace at the new Kōpinga marae in January 2005 on Chatham Island.As of 2016, the marae has registered almost 800 Moriori descendants, with more than 3000 associated children. The Kopinga meeting place and Hokomenetai meeting house are based in the town of Waitangi, also on Chatham Island.
In 2001 work began on preserving the vocabulary and songs of the Moriori people.They also received a $6 million grant to preserve their culture and language from the Government. The Albatross remains important in Moriori culture: it is seen in the design of the Kōpinga marae and its feathers are worn in the hair of some Moriori as a sign of peace. The relationship between the Moriori and Ngati Mutunga is improving, and non-violence remains a cornerstone of the Moriori self image.
In 2002 land on the east coast of Chatham Island was purchased by the crown (the Taia property). It is now a reserve and jointly managed by Moriori and the Crown. The Moriori are also actively involved with preserving the rakau momori (tree carvings) on the islands.
English and to a lesser extent Māori are spoken by Moriori today. The now extinct Moriori language was Eastern Polynesian and closely related to Māori and Cook Island Māori with which it was mutually intelligible. It shared about 70% of its vocabulary with Māori, however, there were significant differences in grammar and pronunciation.There are modern attempts at creating learning materials to ensure the survival of what remains of the language.
In 2001 the two main political groups of Moriori united to form the Hokotehi Moriori Trust,however, some internal disputes remain. The New Zealand Government recognises the Hokotehi Moriori Trust as having the mandate to represent Moriori in Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations. It is also a mandated iwi organisation under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004 and a recognised iwi aquaculture organisation in the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004. The trust represents Moriori as an "iwi authority" for resource consents under the Resource Management Act 1991, and is a Tūhono organisation. The charitable trust is managed by ten trustees, with representation from both the Chatham Islands, and the North Island and South Island. It is based at Owenga on Chatham Island.
Based on the writing of Percy Smith and Elsdon Best from the late 19th century, theories grew up that the Māori had displaced a more primitive pre-Māori population of Moriori (sometimes described as a small-statured, dark-skinned race of possible Melanesian origin), in mainland New Zealand – and that the Chatham Island Moriori were the last remnant of this earlier race. These theories also had the advantage – from the view of the European settlers – of undermining the notion of the Māori as the indigenous people of New Zealand, making them just one in a progression of waves of migration and conquest by increasingly more civilised and technically able peoples. This in turn was used to justify racist stereotyping, colonisation, and conquest by cultural "superiors".However, the hypothesis of a racially distinct pre-Māori Moriori people was examined and rejected by a number of historians, anthropologists and ethnologists, among them, anthropologist H.D. Skinner in 1923, ethnologist Roger Duff in the 1940s, and historian and ethnographer Arthur Thomson in 1959, as well as Michael King in Moriori: A People Rediscovered in 2000 and James Belich and K.R. Howe in Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand .
The idea of Moriori arriving earlier and being vastly distinct from Māori was widely published in the early twentieth century.Crucially, this story was also promoted in a series of three articles in the School Journal of 1916, and the 1934 A. W. Reed schoolbook The Coming of the Maori to Ao-tea-roa —and therefore became familiar to generations of schoolchildren. This in turn has been repeated by the media and politicians. However, at no point has this idea completely dominated the discussion, with the academic consensus slowly gaining more public awareness over the 20th century.
One of the plots of the 2004 British novel (and 2012 American film) Cloud Atlas featured the slavery of Moriori on the Chatham Islands in the mid 19th century. Some reviews drew attention to the inappropriateness of using motifs from African slavery in the United States of America to represent Māori slave culture.The interchangeability of these two practices has been a common misconception in the popular imagination.
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Māori culture involves the customs, cultural practices, and beliefs of the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand. It originated from, and is still part of, Eastern Polynesian culture. Māori culture also forms a distinctive part of New Zealand culture and, due to a large diaspora and the incorporation of Māori motifs into popular culture, is found throughout the world. Within Māoridom, and to a lesser extent throughout New Zealand as a whole, the word Māoritanga is often used as an approximate synonym for Māori culture, the Māori-language suffix -tanga being roughly equivalent to the qualitative noun-ending -ness in English. Māoritanga has also been translated as "[a] Māori way of life."
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