Having been inspired by the mentioning of the Maori people in the Metal as Iron Age Germanic music thread I decided to create a page specifically about the Maori people. Naturally I will only cover a very rough outline of who they were as a people.
At sometime around the moment when Christians were celebrating the one thousandth year since the birth of their Christ a Polynesian people were just arriving in what would be modern day New Zealand from the Cook Islands. New Zealand or Aoteraroa as they named it (and to which the land masses will now be referred) was far different to the islands of the north. It was large beyond anything they had known. It was bitterly cold with snow and ice in winter and often hot and humid in summer. There were no large wildlife for hunting asides from a few species of flightless bird which were quickly pushed to extinction by the Maori and the plant life could do little to support humans. The colours of the animals and forests were dull browns, greens and greys with but few exceptions. This was not a land of plenty but a cruel and often merciless land. As Aoteraroa filled with the Maori people and was no longer an infinite unending mass war became inevitable. They had no ranged weapons other than for hunting. Battles could have as few as twenty participants to one or two hundred. Between the harsh land and harsher people the Maori grew to be a strong, proud and ascetic people.
Their delving into the arts portrays a simple and hard way of life. Their music was microtonal. The instruments they made could only play a select few notes from the European scales but they found space between these notes. Their flutes, horns and percussion instruments are simple and their sound underlies how Spartan their needs were. The music was bitter like vinegar, what a people they must have been when such a bitter thing was considered like honey. Their songs either showed, like their instruments a strong and content spirit or they showed ferocity. With no metal ever being used by the Maori they instead became expert wood carvers making wooden counterparts to the awesome Greek statues and mosaics. They used whale bone and green stone in addition to wood to make jewelry, weapons and musical instruments. With no written language their spoken tradition is very strong and as such they have many poems.
The Europeans saw the Maori as attractive and there was much intermarriage. The Europeans idealised their way of life and likened them to the classical Greeks. Apparently being brown was the next best thing after being white.
This video gives an idea about what the Maori language
The Maori creation story:YoutubeWikipedia
Some mythological figures that may interst people here:
The god of war Tūmatauenga
The god of storms Tāwhirimātea
The hero Māui
, similar in nature to Hercules and other such European equavilents
Example of a Maori welcoming song
Example of a Maori war songMegaupload
link which contains music from Maori instruments