Project Report, 2008
21 Pages, Grade: 1,0
2. The people of the Māori
2.1 The culture of the Māori
2.1.1. The Archaic and the Classic Period
2.1.2. The Religion
2.1.3. Māori genealogy
2.2. The language of the Māori - Te Reo Māori
3. European influences on the Māori until the beginning of the 20th century
3.1. Influences on Te Reo Māori
3.1.1. The restriction of Te Reo Māori
4. Influences of Te Reo Māori on English
4.1. The development of Māori English
4.2. Influences of Te Reo Māori on the New Zealand English lexicon
5. The current language situation in New Zealand
5.1. Language Policies in New Zealand
5.1.1. Aoteareo (the Waite Report)
5.1.2. The Māori Language Act
5.1.3. The New Zealand Sign Language Act
“Language is the very life-breath of being Māori”
Looking at this quotation from the Māori Language Commission the impression is created that language is the most important elixir for the Māoris and also their culture. However, is this elixir, Te Reo Māori, still alive or has the English language suffocated it?
With the colonisation of New Zealand by Great Britain the Māoris had to face several severe changes in their language use and their culture. These changes include, among other things, the shift in the language of communication from Te Reo Māori to English and the displacement of Māori tribes from their native land. Language death, and hence also cultural death, would have been the worst case. But with the help of the New Zealand Government Te Reo Māori and the culture of the Māoris is experiencing a unique revival.
Nevertheless, Te Reo Māori has also had a permanent influence on the English language. It was most influential during the first years of colonisation and now again in the period of revitalisation. Similarly, other languages have had an influence on New Zealand English and particularly on the language situation in New Zealand. More than 180 languages have been spoken or understood by New Zealanders in 2006 and this number might have increased by now. In spite of this large number of languages being spoken or understood, hardly any policies for languages exist though a necessity for such a policy is more than present.
The aim of this essay is to have a detailed look at the people of the Māori and the influence they had on the English spoken in New Zealand as well as to analyse the current language situation, including existing language policies, in New Zealand. In order to do this, the people and the culture of the Māori will be described at first and after that the influences Europeans had on the people of the Māori and their language will be considered. Next, the influences of the Māori and Te Reo Māori on the English language, namely the development of Māori English and the influences on the New Zealand English lexicon, will be examined. Finally, the current language situation in New Zealand will be presented including the most important, already enacted language policies (Aoteareo, Māori Language Act and New Zealand Sign Language Act).
The arrival date of the first Māoris in New Zealand has been a contentious issue for a long time. Robinson (1992:44) states that New Zealand had been settled from the 1st century onwards by people from either the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, the Cook Islands or the Society Islands. Other studies from the 1950s and 1960s, however, state that a major settlement had not taken place until 800 or 900 AD. An oral tradition from the Māoris states that a navigator called Kupe discovered New Zealand in 1325 without finding a single living soul there. Thus, it is generally assumed that the colonisation of New Zealand by the Māoris started around that date with the greatest number of them arriving during the 14th century (see Robinson on Besiedlung). This viewpoint is confirmed by the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, which states that the Māori “are descendants of Polynesian peoples who had arrived [in New Zealand] by 1300 AD” in canoes. The first and most canoes seem to have landed on the East Coast of the North Island at a place called Whangaparāoa, which is situated at the very eastern tip of the Bay of Plenty. However, many canoes continued to explore the rest of the country and “travelled along the Bay of Plenty coastline […] up the Tāmaki River […], southward to Mōkau, in north Taranaki, before returning northward to make final landfall at a place called Rangiāhua on the Kāwhia Harbour” (Encyclopedia of New Zealand on the Arrival of the Māori in New Zealand). Due to these explorations it can be assumed that the entire country had been explored by the end of the 14th century. Nevertheless, the Māoris seem to have remained close to their initial settlements, which were most of the times close to harbours or mouths of rivers. They retained their maritime culture and turned inland only over several generations to experience a more inland culture influenced by trees and birds.
In order to completely understand the Māoris and their culture it is important to mention their arrival from their point of view. Robinson (1992:44) states that in the oral tradition of the Māoris Hawaiki is the origin of the first settlers. The explorer Kupe discovered New Zealand around 1325 AD and after several further explorations had been made, the Māoris decided to intentionally settle in New Zealand in a great fleet of seven canoes. The canoes of the first settlers play an important role in the genealogy of the Māoris as it will be mentioned in detail later on.
Robinson (1992:45) states that Jack Golson used the term “New Zealand Eastern Polynesian Culture” to refer to the culture of the Māoris. This term can be divided into two phases, the early Archaic period and the later Classic period. Davidson (1994:209) criticises that the term ‘Archaic’ has been used in a number of ways, “from a narrow designation for artefacts […] to a blanket term for all cultural activity” and that it is therefore better to avoid using the term. The way Golson uses the term, ‘Archaic’ refers to the culture of the Māoris and this opinion is in accordance with the Encylopedia of New Zealand.
During the Archaic period the Māoris came in contact with a flightless bird called moa. They hunted this bird for food and its bones were used for ornaments, fish hooks, bird spear points and other items. When the number of moas decreased, the Māoris started fishing, fowling, and collecting molluscs. With the change from moa hunters to fishers and fowlers the Māoris began to settle in villages and specialised in making adze for their canoes. As Robinson (1992:46) suggests it is interesting to note that the Māoris in the Archaic period seem to have been peaceful people who did not own any weapons of war.
The second period, the Classic period, began with the officially verifiable settlement of the Māoris, who arrived around 1300 AD. In this period the Māoris slowly developed agriculture probably also due to the introduction of new food plants such as the kumara, the taro or the uhi/yam. According to the Encyclopedia of New Zealand “cultivated foods came under the rulership of the god Rongo whose emblem was placed in fields with the growing crops, all work being undertaken under the direction of a tohunga (priest)”. The main equipment that was used for agriculture were digging sticks (ko), spades (kaheru) and weeders (ketu).
In the Classic period the houses in the villages were often built on hills and if this was not the case at least one congeries of huts and storage huts was built on a hill where people could find refuge in case of danger or war. As more and more people arrived in New Zealand the peaceful time was over and the Māoris of the Classic period evolved new weapons of war. The weapons were made of wood, bone or stone and were often handed down in families.
The religion of the Māoris is very different to Christianity. In their belief the world exists of two parts, the world of light (Ao) and the world of darkness (Po). The death is a gateway to the afterlife and can occur in three different ways, namely Mate Taua (death in a fight), Mate Aitu or Mate Tara Whare (death due to illness) or Mate Whaiwhaiaa (death due to witchcraft). Death is a continual process, which does not end with the physical death of the body as they enter their afterlife. Nevertheless, the Māoris are afraid of death as they have to leave their family and land behind. The funeral ceremony (tangihanga) is a very important part of the process of grieving for someone.
The religious believes of Mana, Tapu and Noa can be seen as the guidelines and also laws to the religious life of the Māori (see Robinson on Religiöse Vorstellungen).
Robinson (1992:54) argues that mana is the energy that develops during a birth ritual (Tohi Karakia) and that there are different types of mana, namely Mana Ariki, Mana Tapu and Manu Atuatanga. As Robinson (1992:55) states “mana is a supernatural force said to be in a person, place object or spirit. It is commonly understood as prestige, status, or authority – although the status is derived from possessing Mana”. The power of mana is undifferentiated, dangerous and can be transferred to other people by biting into the ear or toe of the dying man with mana. As mana is a sign of prestige or status it can also be lost or endangered if the person possessing it is careless or arrogant or in case of war. However, a control system, tapu, exists that protects mana from these dangers.
Tapu is the control system of mana. They can be compared to nowadays laws with the difference, however, that they are invisible and carry implied prohibitions. As Robinson (1992:55) states “belief in Tapu was without doubt the most important of all aspects of Maori life and thought, affecting mankind directly and indirectly from birth to death”. Tapu can be considered to be a regulator of every facet of Māori life. Most tapus protect something sacred or restricted something that is in a way spiritual. If a tapu is breached by a person that person can be punished with misfortune, illness or death. In some cases it is, however, possible to compensate the breach with the help of neutralising powers, such as bread, water or women. These powers, which are called Noa, can be considered as the control system of the tapu and will be discussed in more detail later. Some tapus, however, do not protect sacred things but for example illnesses or corpses. Typical examples for tapu are certain occasions such as funerals or wars but there are also tapus for parts of the body or for physical conditions. As the concept of tapu seems to be a very complicated and extensive one it can be said that tapu“comprises, indeed, everything that we call law, custom, etiquette, predjudice and superstition” (Robinson 1992:56).
 Māori Language Commission on About the Māori language
 The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand states that the arrival of the Māoris in a great fleet is only a myth coined by Europeans, either intentionally or due to mistake. The more or less officially accepted settlement history has been mentioned before.
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