Experiencing a tour of New Zealand means you will no doubt quickly discover how significantly Maori culture has impacted the values and beliefs of the local people. You may have already read up about Maori culture in light of your trip, you might even know exactly what you simply can’t miss out when discovering Maori Culture during your time in New Zealand. To add to this, we thought we’d give you a little extra insight into the enchanting culture you will soon be experiencing, with five surprising facts about New Zealand’s Maori culture.

  1. Maori is an official New Zealand language

With 15% of New Zealand’s population being Maori, the native Maori language is one of the country’s three official languages along with English and New Zealand sign language. Maori language is currently used by about 23% of the country’s population, but figures are rising. There are now Maori radio and TV stations, Maori schools and other initiatives such as the language week where people are encouraged to understand the Maori language. ‘Kia Ora’ is the common Maori greeting, just to get you started…


  1. ‘Hangi’ is a traditional underground cooking method

One of our Maori facts needs to include some information about the delicious Maori food and on your travels, you really should experience the Maori hangi. True to Maori cultural values, sharing food is an important tradition and there is no better way to do it than sharing in the ‘hangi’, which actually translates to earth oven. This traditional way of cooking involves food being wrapped in damp cloths and wire baskets and then buried deep within the land where hot rocks and coals lie below. Underground the food is slow cooked and brought out to share with the group. Find out more here.

 rot hongi new zealand

  1. Maori people live by two encompassing beliefs

In Maori culture the people are guided by two main beliefs: Manaakitanga and Kaitiakitanga. Manaakitanga, which values hospitality, is all about teaching the Maori people to treat visitors and guests with an abundance kindness and have mutual respect for their beliefs. Kaitiakitanga, which values guardianship teaches the philosophy of caring for the natural world. Maori people take the responsibility of caring for and protecting their land very seriously.

  1. The island of Aotearoa was fished by a god from the sea

This surprising Maori fact is a magical one. It is a Maori folktale that has been passed down through the generations and is still often talked about amongst the Maori community. The tale is about the demigod of Polynesian mythology, Maui, and how he one day flung out his enchanted hook into the ocean and pulled out the North Island of Aotearoa. There are many fascinating folktales relating to the landscapes and traditions, and nothing beats hearing the tale directly from the Maori people themselves.

  1. Today’s performance art used to be training for battle

Today, Poi is famously known as a style of performance art where you swing tethered weights in an array of rhythmical and geometric sequences. This Maori fact is about the history of Poi, as originally this technique was designed for male warriors to improve their core strength and coordination before they engaged in battle.


There are still many more Maori facts to discover…


While we have revealed these five surprising Maori culture facts, you can rest assured that there are still many more to discover on your tour of New Zealand.