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The Te Wai Pounamu are one of the numerous Maori tribes located on the South Island of New Zealand. They are the largest of the tribes, by a wide margin, and as such they control an area larger than most Maori tribes, with the Otago Peninsula being entirely inhabited by them. They are one of the largest Maori tribes of New Zealand, and are also the dominant cultural and military power of the islands.
The history of the Maori begins with the colonization of New Zealand by Eastern Polynesians around 1280. They travelled over from Hawaiki, they mystical homeland in Polynesia. These Polynesians travelled over on large ocean-going waka. In this period, the Otago region of the South Island became the cultural center of the Maori, also acting as the home of the Otago Maori, or Te Wai Pounamu. It was this, in combination with the abundant birdlife, that led to the South Island's Maori populations growing extensively, and at a greater rate than on the North Island. It was during this period, at around 1350, that the Maori tribe of Te Wai Pounamu, or Otago Maori, was formed. Over the next fifty years, the Te Wai Pounamu grew, and gained strength as a military power and cultural power. This was down to their utilization of Pounamu, otherwise known as greenstone, in the use of weapons to gain an edge over their opponents. However, this growth came at a cost, with birdlife populations suffering greatly. The Moa, Adzebill, and Haast's Eagle being pushed closer to extinction. Something which became more obvious to the Maori of Te Wai Pounamu, as their hunts increased in difficulty. Leading to the need for either greater land to harvest from, or a change to the Maori way of life to more efficiently utilize the resources available to them. Which Te Wai Pounamu must now address.
The South Island, the home of Te Wai Pounamu, has an area of 150,437 km², and is the largest land mass of New Zealand; as well as the world's 12th largest island. It is divided along its length by a vast mountain range, the highest peak of which is Aoraki at 3754 metres. The east side of the island is home to plains, whilst the west side is dominated by rough coastlines. Which are dominated by native flora, and two great glaciers: Te Moeka o Tuawe and Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere.
The climate in the South Island is mostly temperate. January and February are the warmest months while July is the coldest. Conditions vary sharply across the island from extremely wet on the west coast to semi-arid on the plains of the west coast. Most precipitation falls along the west coast, with less rain on the east coast, which predominantly falls on the plains present there. The southern and south-western parts of the South Island have a cooler and cloudier climate, whereas the northern and north-eastern parts of the South Island are sunnier.
The South Island's geographic isolation for 80 million years and island biogeography is responsible for the island's unique species of animals, fungi and plants. Before the arrival of humans an estimated 80 percent of the land was covered in forest, with only high alpine, wet, infertile and volcanic areas without trees. Moderate deforestation has occurred since the Polynesian's arrival. With around 15% of forest cover being lost to fire. The forests are dominated by birds, and the lack of mammalian predators prior to human arrival led to species like the kiwi, Moa, and Adzebill evolving flightlessness. The arrival of humans, associated changes to habitat, and the introduction of invasive mammals have led to many bird species being threatened, especially those of large size. Other indigenous animals are represented by reptiles, frogs, spiders, insects and snails. Three species of bats are the only native land mammals, whereas marine mammals are abundant, with almost half the world's cetaceans being located in surrounding waters. The most impressive aspect of the South Island's biodiversity however, is the native bird species. The Moa, Adzebill, and Haast's Eagle being the most prominent. One of the species of Moa present on the South Island, the South Island Giant Moa is the largest species of bird that has ever existed. The Haast's Eagle is also a record breaker, as it is the largest eagle to have ever existed. Making these birds an extremely valuable commodity for the Te Wai Pounamu.
The Polynesians who settled New Zealand carried a style of economy with them. This was focused on the cultivation and bartering of resources they brought with them, such as the Kuri, Kumara, and Kiore; these were quickly joined by local resources such as the Moa and Adzebill, which were plentiful and as a result improved the economy. The Te Wai Pounamu economy is the strongest of the New Zealand tribes, but is having to change as the availability of local resources change.
Te Wai Pounamu is an example of an Iwi. The Iwi is the highest form of Maori tribal group, and are formed from those who trace their ancestry to the same Polynesians who travelled over in waka from Hawaiki, the mythical homeland in Polynesia. The Iwi is led by a Rangatira, a Maori chieftain, which is an hereditary position held by a single family of the Iwi. In the case of Te Wai Pounamu, the current Rangatira is Anaru Ariki, whose family line has held the position of Rangatira of Te Wai Pounamu for over a century. Each Iwi has a number of Hapu, sub-tribes, which act as subdivisions, and are led by their own chiefs, who serve the Rangatira. The hapu again is subdivided into Whanau, the lowest Maori political unit. The Whanau are individual extended families, and as a result number greatly within the Maori political structure, but have no real power beyond answering the call of the Hapu and Iwi.
List Of Rangatira
Here is a complete list of Rangatira of Te Wai Pounamu.
- Hemi Ariki (1350-1367)
- Wiremu Ariki (1367-1389)
- Moana Ariki (1389-1401)
- Petera Ariki (1401-1423)
- Porou Ariki (1423-1440)
- Anaru Ariki (1440-????)
At current Te Wai Pounamu is unaware of the existence of any other tribes or nations beyond that of the islands of New Zealand.
- Te Tau Ihu O Te Waka
- All North Island Tribes
The level of inter-tribal warfare amongst Maori is predominantly lower than other tribal peoples, as in the near two centuries since the arrival of the Maori in New Zealand in around 1280, there has been ample land and resources to go around. However following recent population growth and the increasing scarcity of the moa, warfare has begun to increase between tribes for resources. These conflicts are mainly concentrated on the North island, where the number of tribes is large for the area available. As the South Island is dominated by only two tribes, greater resources are available. As a result of this increasing conflict, in Maori culture, warriors are beginning to be held higher in esteem. The warriors of the Te Wai Pounamu fight with a variety of weapons. Including: Jade clubs, fighting staffs, and spears. Known in Maori as Pounamu patu, taiaha, and tao respectively. Maori currently have no distance weapons such as bows or slings, so all fighting takes place at close range. The idea of hill forts has recently begun to spread among tribes, and the Maori variant. known as a 'pa', has begun to appear among certain tribes.
The Maori speak a language of the same name, which is part of the Polynesian language group, specifically, Eastern Polynesian. Maori belongs to the Tahitic subgroup, which includes Rarotongan and Tahitian. Other major Eastern Polynesian languages include Hawaiian and Marquesan, which are languages in the Marquesic subgroup. There are two major dialects, the South Island, and the North Island.
Maori religion is little different from that of those in Eastern Polynesia and is known as Hawaiki Nui. Which conceives of everything, including natural elements and all living things, as connected by common descent. As a result all things are thought of as possessing a life force. These are separated into three ancestors. Tangaroa is the personification of the ocean and the ancestor of all fish; Tane is the personification of the forest and the ancestor of all birds; and Rongo is the personification of peaceful activities and agriculture and the ancestor of cultivated plants.
Charcoal drawings can be found on limestone rock shelters in the centre of the South Island, with over 500 sites stretching from Kaikoura to North Otago. The drawings are estimated to be between 500 and 800 years old, and portray animals, people, and possibly stylised reptiles. These were drawn by early Maori. Maori art consists primarily of four forms: carving, tattooing, weaving and painting. It is rare for any of these to be purely decorative; Maori art is highly spiritual and conveyed information about spiritual matters, ancestry, and other culturally important topics. The creation of art was governed by the rules of tapu. Styles varied from region to region. Most Maori art is highly stylized and featured patterns such as the spiral and the koru. The colors black, white and red dominated. Carving is done in three media: wood, bone, and stone. Wood carvings are used to decorate houses, fencepoles, containers, taiaha and other objects. The most popular type of stone used in carving is pounamu, a form of jade. Both stone and bone are used to create jewelry such as the hei-tiki. Large scale stone face carvings are also sometimes created. Carving is traditionally a tapu activity performed by men only. Ta moko is the art of traditional Maori tattooing, done with a chisel. Men are tattooed on many parts of their bodies. Women were usually tattooed only on the lips and chin. Moko conveys a person's ancestry. Weaving is used to create numerous things, including wall panels in meeting houses and other important buildings, as well as clothing and kete. Cloaks in particular are seen as a symbol of prominence. The main medium for weaving is flax. But feather is also a much used material. Weaving was primarily done by women. The oldest forms of Maori art are rock paintings. In recent times however Māori painting is mainly used as a minor decoration in meeting houses, in stylised forms such as the koru.