Maori Photo Essay

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Luke Beckwith


ENG 2089

Professor Oberlin

Maori Photo Essay

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Map of New Zealand:

Here we can see the Northen Island and the Southern Island and all its separate principalities. Each of these is steeped in its own native tribal roots and over all history as a developed nation and former colony.

Shown on this map is the Key for all the Maori tribe names of the principalities.

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This is a picture taken by photographer John Miller, who is a documentarian of Waitangi Day protests over many years. (Waitangi Day being the Maori Independence Day from colonial English rule). This was taken in 1996 at a rally and features the widely accepted and acknowledged Tino Rangatiratanga movement. Rangatiratanga literally translates to “independence” from Maori. It is the symbol of freedom for the Maori people from British Colonial oppression.

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Like the last photo, this one also takes place at an independence rally for Maori people. The lady depicted is holding the Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty represents a status of covenant with the British Crown. It’s signing is a founding document for modern day New Zealand. The treaty signed in 1840, allowed land to be distributed and settled mostly by the British but avoided any mass land grabs or battles amongst the English and the natives of New Zealand. However, the treaty while set in place was not always followed routinely per se and many social injustices and inevitable battles resulted. There are still cultural clashes within the nation as a result of this treaty today.

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This piece of craftsmanship is called a “mere pounamu” and was presented byEruera Maihi Patuone to the British representative William Hobson at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on the 6th of February 1840. Great in Hand-to-hand combat, the mere would also be used to make peace. Mere still are customary as gifts or in gift exchanges to mark significant occasions.

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This is Apirana Ngata in 1914. Ngata was a politician, scholar and Maori landholding reformer. He was a notable leader in the quest for Maori to secure their place in a Pakeha (white man) dominated society. A strong civil rights activist for the Maori people and a significant social leader of his era.

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Depicted here is Hana Jackson speaking at the first Maori Writers and Artists Conference at Te Kaha in 1973. She became a prominent Maori rights activist and Maori language advocate and educator. Even at this time Maori were facing cultural and some racial discrimination from their former treaty co-signers and colonizers.

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These two Amo – carved posts are from a pakata (food storehouse) at Korinti marae on Whanganui river. They were carved from totara in the 19th century. The style is Rongowhakaata but it has Whanganui influences. These would be displayed on traditional Maori houses and sacred chapels.

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This is Taitoko Kepa Te Rangihiwinui, later known as Major Kemp. Was the son of two tribes (Whanganui and Muaupoko). Born in the early 1820s, he fought in the British militia to protect his tribal lands and his peoples home. However, in the 1880s after being decorated with many honors by Queen Victoria’s Swords of Honour, he became disillusioned with the governments land owning policies and debates, and eventually switched sides and fought his previous allies to defend the land they were now trying to take from his fellow tribesmen’s land.

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These pictures here depict two very classic Maori customs: fishing and the haka. Fishing was a big part of Maori’s culture and lots of ceremonial artifacts and carvings are made for the purpose of sterns, boats and ores. The other picture depicts a haka or dance. These are used by all Maori tribes to instill fear between tribes at war. They are also customary in modern times before famous All-Blacks rugby matches and they can be used to greet diplomatic nationals of importance. It’s basically a ceremonial dance that is very prevalent in the Maori culture today.

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This is a hand drawn map of the Whanganui land purchased in 1848 by European settlers and the British Military. 600 Maori gathered to sign a document releasing the land for sale, each getting a stipend of the cost. The land purchased was located through Whanganui tribal land.

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The final caption here denotes: the final stage of the 1975 Maori land march, on the way to Parliament through the streets of Wellington, led by the Pouwhenua, the ceremonial boundary marker carved specially for the march by Moka Kaenga Mata Puru. This is very eerily similar to other civil rights movement pictures of our own culture. But luckily this is one of the last land Marches that had to occur still dealing with parliamentary of British encroachment of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Works Cited

• Horwood, Michelle, and Che Wilson. Te Ara Tapu: Sacred Journeys : Whanganui Regional Museum Taonga Māori Collection. Glenfield, Auckland: Whanganui Regional Museum, 2008. Print.

• Smith, Huhana. E Tū Ake: Māori Standing Strong. Wellington: Te Papa, 2011. Print.

• Cormack, Ian. He Pa Auroa: A Dictionary and Language Guide for Students of Maori. Auckland, N.Z.: New House, 2000. Print.

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