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Māori

Aboriginals from Galiwnku Island crowd around to watch the proceedings on the Federation lawn in front of Parliament House in Canberra, Australia on Monday February 11, 2008.  Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday will formally say sorry to Aboriginal people for past administrations' policy of forcibly removing indigenous children from their families, Canberra. (AP Photo/Mark Graham)
Aboriginals from Galiwnku Island crowd around to watch the proceedings on the Federation lawn in front of Parliament House in Canberra, Australia on Monday February 11, 2008.  Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday will formally say sorry to Aboriginal people for past administrations' policy of forcibly removing indigenous children from their families, Canberra. (AP Photo/Mark Graham)

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of waka (canoe) voyages between roughly 1320 and 1350. Over several centuries in isolation, these settlers developed their own distinctive culture, whose language, mythology, crafts and performing arts evolved independently from those of other eastern Polynesian cultures. Some early Māori moved to the Chatham Islands where their descendants became New Zealand's other indigenous Polynesian ethnic group, the Moriori.

The arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, starting in the 17th century, brought enormous changes to the Māori way of life. Māori people gradually adopted many aspects of Western society and culture. Initial relations between Māori and Europeans were largely amicable, and with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, the two cultures coexisted. Rising tensions over disputed land sales led to conflict in the 1860s, and massive land confiscations. Social upheaval, and epidemics of introduced disease took a devastating toll on the Māori population, which fell dramatically. By the start of the 20th century, the Māori population had begun to recover, and efforts have been made to increase their standing in wider New Zealand society and achieve social justice.

Traditional Māori culture has thereby enjoyed a significant revival, which was further bolstered by a Māori protest movement that emerged in the 1960s. However, disproportionate numbers of Māori face significant economic and social obstacles, and generally have lower life expectancies and incomes compared with other New Zealand ethnic groups. They suffer higher levels of crime, health problems, and educational under-achievement. A number of socioeconomic initiatives have been instigated with the aim of "closing the gap" between Māori and other New Zealanders. Political and economic redress for historical grievances is also ongoing (see Treaty of Waitangi claims and settlements).

In the 2018 census, there were 775,836 people in New Zealand identifying as Māori, making up 16.5 per cent of the national population. They are the second-largest ethnic group in New Zealand, after European New Zealanders ("Pākehā"). In addition, more than 140,000 Māori live in Australia. The Māori language is spoken to some extent by about a fifth of all Māori, representing 3 per cent of the total population. Māori are active in all spheres of New Zealand culture and society, with independent representation in areas such as media, politics and sport.


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