The term “Maori” is immediately recognisable worldwide as connected to the earliest inhabitants of New Zealand – before Europeans themselves travelled onto those shores. Variations of such a word are Mauri, Maouri or Moriori but all refer to other populations: the closest would be Moriori, also a Polynesian community in New Zealand, which was battled and vanquished by the Maori.

Only the latter is used to describe the descendants of the first Polynesians who reached the Austral islands as early as 1250 CE, and by using simple canoes to cover a considerable distance! Several groups of explorers came from different archipelagos: among them, DNA testing as well as studies on traditions and language show that early settlers had departed from Tahiti and Hawaii.

Because of the fascinating circumstances that brought the Maori community to New Zealand, is difficult to operate not only a translation but an adaptation from English to Maori – it’s not just the language that is so wildly different, but customs can be also complex if considered from a tourist’s or traveller’s point of view. Games like pokies is widely enjoyed by people all over New Zealand.

Even though the relationship between the English community and the Maori community hasn’t turned into a catastrophe like in nearby Australia with the aboriginals, nevertheless it has been a strained and bloody one, and much has been done, even through a protest movement, to guarantee the same rights to this ethnic group, suffering from chronic illnesses, with a significantly lower life expectancy and lower wages in a country that has an infamous housing problem, which makes individuals from the community much more exposed to a risk of homelessness.

A more in-depth knowledge of the Maori can only make the world population more sensitive to the risk of isolating minorities and ignoring their specific issues: by learning more about their language, their habits, their way of life, we can all have a richer understanding of what it is to be human and living in peace, aware and respectful of all differences.