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Māori tribal areas

A Iwi (tribe) is the largest social and political unity in the society of Māori .

The fact that Iwi is generally translated as “tribe” or in English as “ tribe ” often leads to the assumption that an Iwi was the core of a Maori society in political and sociological terms. But an iwi used to be a loose and flexible connection.

Other meanings

In the Māori language , the word Iwi has other meanings. In addition to tribe, nation, nationality, ethnic group or kinship group, Iwi is also used for bones or power and strength.

Tribal formation and composition

An Iwi (tribe), to which several Hapū belonged, was formed earlier through clan formation; the tribe is mostly traced back to the descent of a waka (canoe) , with which their ancestors came to New Zealand from the mythical Hawaiki , the Polynesian islands . Marriage and tribal feuds have changed the structure and expansion of the Iwi over the centuries. Likewise, some tribes formed or mixed with existing tribes.

An iwi consists of several hapu . The hapū was the most important political entity in pre-European Māori society . It could be between a hundred and several hundred people and include several Whanau (extended families). The members of a Hapū controlled a clearly defined part of the tribal area and ideally had access to the sea or lakes, rivers and forests.

The territory of an iwi is called raw .

Māori place great value on their Iwi ancestry and are proud to know their genealogy . When they introduce themselves to someone, their origin is one of the first things they mention.

Political influence

Despite migrations within New Zealand and marriage to non- Māori over the centuries, most of the iwi still exist and have some political influence. The first Māori Electorates were introduced in New Zealand in 1867 , special constituencies that are only available to Māori and from which directly elected candidates can be sent to parliament. The number of electorates was increased from initially four in two steps to seven in 2002.

Over the past decades, the various Iwi have organized themselves, founded trust organizations ( trusts ), societies and companies and organized themselves politically, also and especially to win back lands and other assets that they had acquired in the years since the Treaty of Waitangi was signed Year 1840. Since the Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975, numerous petitions have been made by the Iwi to the Tribunal. One of the most notable examples of compensation for injustice suffered was the Ngāi Tahu Claim , which was ruled on in 1998. In addition to the NZ $ 170 million in compensation, the tribe was also awarded the return of their sacred mountain Aoraki / Mount Cook .

But the lawsuit with a far larger political dimension was that of the foreshore and seabed controversy , which in 2004 even led to the formation of a new party, the Māori Party . In this matter, which even led to its own law, various Iwi claimed ownership and the right to use the coast of the area between high and low water and the sea.

Reference to Iwi in literature

The Māori -Schriftstellerin Keri Hulme has in her novel The Bone People ( The Bone People , German Edition: The Bone People ) have the dual meaning of bone and tribe ( iwi described) as follows:

"Coming home after a journey or a long absence is called 'going back to the bones' , in the literal sense back to where the ancestral bones are buried."

- Keri Hulme : Under the day moon

Other societies use the word " root " for this.

Known Iwi (selection)

See also


  • Toon van Meijl : Conflicts of Redistributen in Contemporary Maori Society: Leadership and the Tainui Settlement . In: University of Auckland (Ed.): The Journal of the Polynesian Society . Volume 112 No. 3 . Auckland 2003, p. 260–279 (English, online PDF 177 kB [accessed on March 31, 2016]).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Meijl : Conflicts of Redistribution in Contemporary Maori Society: Leadership and the Tainui settlement . 2003, p.  261 .
  2. Iwi . Māori Dictionary , accessed April 3, 2016 .
  3. Rawiri Taonui : Tribal organization - The significance of iwi and hapu . Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand , September 22, 2012, accessed March 31, 2016 .
  4. ^ Māori and the Vote . Election New Zealand , archived from the original on February 8, 2013 ; accessed on April 3, 2016 (English, original website no longer available).
  5. ^ The Treaty in practice - The Ngāi Tahu claim . In: New Zealand History . Ministry for Culture & Heritage , July 7, 2014, accessed April 3, 2016 .
  6. ^ Report on the Crown's Foreshore and Seabed Policy . In: Waitangi Tribunal (ed.): Waitangi Tribunal Report . Wai 1071 . Wellington 2004, ISBN 1-86956-272-0 (English).