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The Maori of New Zealand: Religion, Spirituality and Rights of Passage - Research Paper Example

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The Maori people are native New Zealanders of the Polynesian race (Tregear 1).They are believed to have arrived sometime in the 14th century from 1 of the islands now known as Hawaii in several canoes (buzzle.com). The occupants of each canoe are thought to have settled in…
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The Maori of New Zealand: Religion, Spirituality and Rights of Passage
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The Maori of New Zealand: Religion, Spirituality and Rights of Passage

Download file to see previous pages... As in North America missionaries, in spite of their good intentions to Christianize the Maori people caused a great deal of harm to their culture. They decried violence and coarseness they found in Maori culture, while ignoring these traits within their own. As Tregear pointed out, their biased view shows a failure to understand the underpinnings of Maori culture. Their societies are ruled by heredity chiefs who govern all aspects of Maori life. It is unclear how the original chiefs came into being, but presumably they were individuals who demonstrated leadership abilities and were thought by others to have sacred powers and the ability to communicate directly with the gods. It was assumed that since nature regenerates itself, such powers would be passed on to the chief’s descendants and thus rule by religious aristocracy was established.
Without the benefit of modern scientific knowledge of nature, the Maori invented a plethora of gods to explain and hopefully control their universe. This was done through a wide range of myths, rituals, feasts sacrifices including human. Charms and spells. Most objects, whether inanimate or not, or activity was thought to have “tabu”, that is a sacred potency for either good or evil Duffie 17). Those having prestige because they were considered to be tied to the power of gods with life giving and taking powers such as chiefs were said to have “mana” (Duffie 18). In the Maori world, religion assumed the role of science and permeated all aspects of traditional Maori life. Their mythology and religious practice was based on a 2 tier system. The commoner was taught that the world began with Heaven and Mother Earth and he (she) was a descendant of their union (Tregear 457). However, for those “wise and instructed” or in other words, the hereditary chief and religious elite, the world originated before this event in a more abstract form, possibly by the Supreme Being “singing” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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