Just getting ready to make an appearance and presence at the Kapati Coast Feis but also reflecting on a very moving day yesterday at the enormous Te Papa museum on Wellington Warf where one huge floor is dedicated to the history and traditions of the Maori people.
The biggest surprise to me was the awareness that Maoris only arrived in New Zealand a couple of hundred years before the colonial white men. I was so used to hearing of the cultures of Aborigines, native Americans, middle easterns and Indo Chinese going back into thousands of years BC and so I was Initialy unable to accept that no man lived in New Zealand until about 1400 AD !!!
It was explained to me that possibly the main reason for this was due to fear of the dense forests and steep mountains and cliffs that side much of the New Zealand coast. Well, most of the forest is gone now. White man exported a lot of forest, turned the forest land into farm land then ravaged Pacific Polynesian islands of phosphates for fertiliser to fee this new farmland.
The nearness of settlement by Polynesian Maoris and Euro white men has established a very different ancestry and culture here, yet much of the story is similar. The Colonial addiction of Euros white men did over-ride the sense of stewardship of the Moaris by enslaving them. The reason they were enslaved was the same as with all tribal cultures. While they bickered and fought between themselves the unity of white man took them over. Again, like with other tribal cultures they have learned the power and value of unity from the white man, applied it to their incredible sense of spirit of nature and have risen to show us a new way of earth stewardship.
Here, the government of white man has provided a sincere and meaningful apology to the Polynesian races of the Pacific and they have united for a new cause of being aware of nature, the planet and each other.
It appears the attraction of Aotearoa, New Zealand, to the Polynesians, the Moari or Marea tribe, was the presence of greenstone, that geologists call nephrite, and the Moaris call pounamu, which is similar to jade. This was discovered by them after presumably sailing up what is now Milford Sound and crossing the mountains to the inner lakes around what is now Glenorchy and Queenstown or better known as Lord Of The Rings country after the film settings from here.
The hardness of the pounamu provided their tools, weapons and even an important ingredient for healing. By 1400 AD these people had not taken on the wisdom, alchemy and skills or metal working but they may have been the most advanced people in the world regarding navigation and mapping. The Moaris like all Polynesians were truly sea people. In Te Papa museum were displays and illustrations of how they navigated including coconut shells with holes templated to mark out sky constellations so they could look through and identify their positions while at sea.
It is assumed they first settled in New Zealand to set up a Pacific trade in valuable pounamu.
Other symbolism was present to give clues to their passion for nature and good stewardship which I could vaguely relate to Celtic Symbols. Labyrinth spirals were present by as duos and not as trinity triskeles. Carved figurines were also dominant like sheela na gigs but with hands holding stomachs though sometimes with heads appearing from the vulva regions. These heads were sometimes rotated 45 degrees leaf or right to correspond to the direction of any labyrinth symbol attached or carved into the figurine. Again, I was drawn to their possible interpretation of the male energy flowing anti-clockwise while female flowed clockwise, just like in Celtic symbolism or simply through following the behaviour of mating birds, particularly sea and water birds.
As I now have to quickly finish this blog as it is time to head for Kapati I will write again on how this new history of this land makes it so different to how we may live in other lands and why this may make this land so attractive to others. I also think that New Zealand will shortly be the model for the next economic boom to come.
Around the world the economies are shrivelling partially to a bubble bursting from internet driven industries. However, I see the exponential growing here, in New Zealand, of a new economy that we will soon be attracted to and will fast adapt to. This is partially made possible by New Zealand’s short human life history that is not plaguing them with 1000s of years of ancestral guilt and fear.