Māori birth rites: Hapū, whānau, whenua: Bringing the past into the present

For modern mum Whetu Horo, the recent birth of her baby son was imbued with the spirit of her precious culture, explains Tiffany Brown.

The first people of Aotearoa 

Dwelt here for centuries before the arrival of the Europeans. Since Captain James Cook and his men claimed the discovery of this inhabited land in 1770, systematic infiltration of people from all over the globe has followed. Māori culture has endured a tumultuous history in that time, in which rites and customs have alternately been puzzled over, ridiculed, ignored, stamped out, persecuted, and celebrated. But many indigenous descendants of this proud heritage have worked tirelessly to keep its traditions alive, and as a result we are now seeing greater mainstream acceptance of the incorporation of special birth protocols for modern mothers. 

Birth in the Māori tradition

Māori culture has a strong oral tradition, and te reo Māori, or the Māori language, is richly layered, and an effective means through which non-Māori may more fully understand the wairua (spirit) and tikanga (customs) of the culture. Many will be familiar with the respective meanings of the terms whānau, hapū, and whenua, being family, clan, and land… SUBSCRIBE HERE AND READ THE FULL STORY 


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