Sample Cultural Studies Paper on Traditional Maori Society

The purpose of this essay is to highlight the various aspects of life in traditional Maori society. Furthermore, this paper intends to illustrate the role that nostalgia has played in how published works and other literary works have depicted the social and cultural organization of the traditional Maori society.

The Maori descended from Polynesian settlers who migrated into New Zealand approximately seven centuries ago. With them, came a vibrant and unique culture which became deeply embedded into the Maori way of life[1]. The largest faction of social organization in the Maori traditional society was the Iwi, which referred to tribes. However, of more significance to the Maori was the Hapu, which referred to sub –tribe. The hapu was made up of several closely related extended families which formed the strongest political unit, led by a chief who was known as Ariki[2]. The Ariki was a political as well as religious leader. So powerful was the chief that land placed under the jurisdiction of the Ariki would be the land upon which a given hapu would not only settle on but also practice is economic activities on.

Hapus carried out their economic activities as a community on the allocated land. The extended families (Whanau) shared living and sleeping quarters with the eldest male being the head of the house[3]. Land was owned communally and was characterized by various migrations which the hapu did in order to allow rejuvenation of exhausted land. Due to the lack of a central system the Maori subscribed to an unwritten code of behavior known as Tikanga. Also central to Maori life was the concept of Tapu, which basically meant positive energy. This positive energy was attached to various items and individuals in the society and was regarded with high respect[4]. Tapu had to be protected therefore, seeing as certain actions would reduce the Tapu of an object or individual.

In a depiction of how authors has represented the culture and social organization of the Maori, Stafford and Williams authored their text “Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 1872-1914. In the text’s second chapter, the author nostalgically recounts the life of Alfred Domett, specifically recalling how Alfred referred to conversations he (Alfred) had on literature, politics and religion as colloquial[5]. They observe how the writer depicts the culture of the Maori people in his book, observing the coming of Europeans to Maoriland and the profound effect this had on the people and culture of the Maori[6]. Moreover, in their analysis of Henry Lawson’s aesthetic crisis the writer recounts with nostalgia the arrival of Henry marked by the publishing of an optimistic poem on his exploration of Maoriland. He nostalgically highlights the culture of cannibalism associated with the Maori people[7], and further notes the impact that European colonization had on this culture of the Maori people.

On the other hand, Timoti Gallagher in his publishing recounts the role of Tikanga, the unwritten code of acceptable behavior in the traditional Maori society. He discredits the European translation of Tikanga as an unorthodox and unconventional code of behavior[8]. He nostalgically highlights the fact that unlike popular belief among scholarly circles, the Maori were not governed by a written and formally formulated set of laws[9] but rather, the Tikanga system of governance encompassed more of ways of the community that were prescribed and deemed acceptable social behavior. He goes on to describe the fundamental principles that underlie the concept of Tikanga. He however with a tone of disappointment and nostalgia notes that the Maori concepts could not be adequately described in English[10].

Peter Gibbons notes that while Maori historians acknowledge the presence and role of European occupancy and colonization up to the late 19th century and to some extent presently[11], Pakeha historians do not. This he nostalgically notes is due to the fact that the negative effects of colonization on the traditional Maori society[12] have been highlighted upon by various institutions and individuals in general. This fact has made Pakeha historians reluctant to acknowledge the negative impact that colonization had on the traditional Maori society cultural practices.

Michael Goldsmith’s (2003) “our place in New Zealand Culture: How the museum of New Zealand constructs biculturalism” highlights modern issues raised on Maori culture[13]. Of major concern to him is the way Pakeha culture has been depicted in the museum. He nostalgically recounts the positive role that Pakeha culture has played in the Maori society and is blunt enough to express his displeasure at the disregard with which the Pakeha culture is treated[14].

Brookes B “Nostalgia for innocent home pleasures: …” nostalgically recounts the move by the department of education to ban Washday, by a welfare association representing Maori women[15]. This book depicted Maori lifestyle in a manner that offended the Maori community. She nostalgically places the controversy surrounding the text at a time when the standards of living of the Pakeha and Maori were different[16]. She nostalgically recounts that most Pakeha used the occasion to express a feeling of longing for mother-centred domesticity.

While most authors are keen to highlight the traditional Maori societal and cultural practices, even more are keen on the impact that European colonization has had on the Maori. Furthermore, authors have been keen on past events that have been inspired by the traditional and cultural difference between the Maori and other cultural practices in New Zealand.

 

Works Cited

  1. Brookes, ‘Nostalgia for ‘innocent homely pleasures’: The 1964 New Zealand Controversy over Washday at the Pa’, in Gender & History, vol. 9, no. 2, 1997, pp. 242-261.
  2. Bell, ‘The ‘real’ New Zealand: Rural mythologies perpetuated and commodified’, in The Social Science Journal, vol. 34, no. 2, 1997, pp. 145-158.

Goldsmith, Michael, ‘Our place in New Zealand culture: How the Museum of New Zealand constructs biculturalism’, in Ethnologies Comparees, vol. 6, 2003

Gibbons, P.,(2002), Cultural colonization and National Identity, New Zealand journal of History, 36, 1

Gallagher, T., Tikanga Maori Pre-1840 (n.d). Retrieved from http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Bid001Kahu-t1-g1-t1.html

  1. Stafford, and M. Williams. Maoriland: New Zealand Literature, 1872-1914, Wellington, 2006

Maori of New Zealand: Classical Maori Society (n.d, n.a). Retrieved from https://www.maori.info/maori_society.htm

Ruapekapeka, Traditional Maori Society. (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.ruapekapeka.co.nz/read/traditional-m%C4%81ori-society

 

 

[1] Ruapekapeka, Traditional Maori Society

[2] C. Bell, ‘The ‘real’ New Zealand: Rural mythologies perpetuated and commodified’, in The Social Science Journal, vol. 34, no. 2, 1997, pp. 145-158.

[3]  Ruapekapeka

[4] Maori of New Zealand: Classical Maori Society (n.d, n.a)

[5] J. Stafford, and M. Williams. Maoriland: New Zealand Literature, 1872-1914, Wellington, 2006

[6] J. Stafford, and M. Williams. Maoriland: New Zealand Literature

[7] [7] J. Stafford, and M. Williams

[8] Gallagher, T., Tikanga Maori Pre-1840,

[9] Gallagher, T.

[10] Gallagher, T., Tikanga Maori Pre-1840,

[11] Gibbons, P.,(2002), Cultural colonization and National Identity, New Zealand journal of History, 36, 1

[12] Gibbons, P.,(2002), Cultural colonization and National Identity

[13] Goldsmith, Michael, ‘Our place in New Zealand culture: How the Museum of New Zealand constructs biculturalism’, in Ethnologies Comparees, vol. 6, 2003

[14] Goldsmith, Michael, ‘Our place in New Zealand culture: How the Museum of New Zealand constructs biculturalism’,

 

[15] B. Brookes, ‘Nostalgia for ‘innocent homely pleasures’: The 1964 New Zealand Controversy over Washday at the Pa’, in Gender & History, vol. 9, no. 2, 1997, pp. 242-261.

[16] B. Brookes, ‘Nostalgia for ‘innocent homely pleasures’