The word Maori, in Maori language, means ordinary and refers to the ordinary people, to distinguish them from deities and gods. The Maori are indigenous Polynesians of New Zealand who existed and lived there naturally and were present in the region in consequence of a natural process, without any human intervention. Living in isolation for centuries, the Maori developed their own language, culture, mythology and craftsmanship. Some Polynesians arrived in New Zealand by lightweight, narrow boats, between 1250 and 1300 CE. They brought with them certain plants, which they planted in New Zealand. Arrival and settling of the Europeans in New Zealand in the seventeenth century influenced the Maori lifestyle and markedly westernized their culture.
1. Hone Heke
Hone Wiremu Heke Pokai, mostly known as Hone Heke, was born in 1807 at Pakaraka, in the Bay of Islands. He was raised in Kaikohe and attended a school at Kerikeri. He was inspired by a missionary named Henry Williams and became a Christian. He was an influential chief of the NgÄpuhi tribe. He is best known for fighting the Flagstaff War, also known as Heke’s Rebellion and it was fought at Bay of Islands from March 11, 1845 to January 11, 1846. He was inspired by the American movement of freedom and was displeased with the British over the treaty of Waitangi, which relocated the capital to Auckland and imposed a custom tariff on staple items. This imposition drastically reduced the number of whaling trawlers in the Bay of Island, which used to be present there in numbers over 20 at any time.
2. Te Rangi Hiroa
Te Rangi Hiroa, also known as Sir Peter Henry Buck, was born in October 1877 in Urenui, New Zealand and died on December 1, 1951 at the age of 74 years. He descended from English paternal ancestry and Maori maternal ancestry. He was a famous Ngati Mutunga Maori. He was a multi-disciplinary person and was known variously as a doctor, a military leader, politician and an anthropologist. He earned his MD from Otago Medical School, six years after receiving his MB ChB in 1904 from Otago Medical School. He had been a long jump champion in 1900. He was appointed as medical officer and tried to improve sanitary conditions in the Maori communities. After the death of Hone Heke Ngapua in 1909, he was elected as the member of the parliament for Northern Maori.
3. Meri Te Tai Mangakahia
Meri Te Tai Mangakahia, daughter of an influential chief of Te Rarawa iwi, was born on May 22, 1868 in Lower Waihou, Panguru in Hokianga Valley. She died of influenza at Panguru on October 10, 1920. She was educated at St. Mary Convent and married to Hamiora Mangakahia, who was the elected premier of the Kotahitanga Parliament in Hawke’s Bay. She was a women’s suffrage activist and she was the first woman to address the assembly in 1893. She submitted a motion for the women’s right to vote, emphasizing that the Maori women were land owners, therefore should be allowed political representation. She had four children.
4. Sir Apirana Turupa Ngata
Sir Apirana Turupa Ngata was born in Te Araroa, New Zealand. He was raised in Maori culture and spoke Maori language. He received his early education at a primary school in Waiomatatini. He attended Te Aute College and then studied at Canterbury University College, receiving his BA in politics. He was the first Maori to receive a degree in New Zealand. Later on he earned his LLB from the University of Auckland. He is best known for protecting the Maori culture and was the most prominent Maori politician who ever served the New Zealand parliament. He participated actively in recruiting Maori volunteers during the First World War. In 1928, he became the Minister of Native Affairs and being the third senior most member, acted at times as Deputy Prime Minister.
5. Keisha Castle-Hughes
Keisha Castle-Hughes was born to an English-Australian Father, Tim Castle and a Maori mother, Desrae Hughes,on March 24, 1990 in Donnybrook, Western Australia. She moved to New Zealand at the age of 18 months and became its citizen in 2001. She received her early education at Wailuku Primary School and later on attended other institutions, including Bailey Road School, Penrose High School and Rosehill College in Auckland. She came into prominence as an actress after her performance as Pai Apirana in the famous movie Whale Rider. The film was nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress. She was the youngest person to be nominated in the Best Actress category. In 2004, she won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Young Actor/Actress.
6. Winston Raymond Peters
Winston Raymond Peters was born of paternal Maori ancestry and maternal Scottish descent on April 11, 1945 in the Northland city of Whangarei. He belongs to McInnes tribe. He attended Dargaville High School and Whangarei Boys’ High School. Afterward, he studied at the University of Auckland and received his BA and LLB degrees. In 1990 after the National Party won the elections, Peters became the Minister of Maori Affairs in the government led by Jim Bolger. Peters often disagreed with the government policies and was popular in public on this account but was not so in the government and had to play as a back bencher.
7. Stephen Peter Kearney
Stephen Peter Kearney was born on June 11, 1972 in Paraparaumu, New Zealand). In 1992, he played for Western Suburbs Magpiesin and after becoming professional in 1993, at the age of 21 years, he became the New Zealand Kiwis’ youngest test captain. He is a professional Maori rugby league football coach and a former player. Currently, he is the head coach of the New Zealand national rugby league team. Formerly, he had been the head coach of Parramatta Eels. He became the first New Zealand footballer to play 250 Australian matches. He retired in 2006 and started coaching at the Melbourne Storm Club. Assisted by Wayne Bennett, he coached the Kiwis, who won the first World Cup on November 22, 2008. He was made the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
8. Sir James Carroll
Sir James Carroll was born to Joseph Carroll of Irish descent and a Maori woman, Tapuke. He was born at Wairoa; Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand on August 20, 1857 and died at Auckland, New Zealand on October 18, 1926 at the age of 69 years. He was educated at the traditional Maori College, Whare Wananga and the native School Wairoa native school. He was the first Maori Minister of Native Affairs from 1899 to 1912. In 1909 and 1911 he was acting prime minister. He married Heni Materoa and settled in Gisborne. They adopted many children but had none of their own.
9. Manu Bennett
Manu Bennett, also known as John Bennett, was born on October 10, 1969 in New Zealand. He is a well-known actor who has appeared in several movies and TV series. He was raised in Sydney and Newcastle and attended Te Aute College in New Zealand. He is best known for his performance as Crixus in the American Starz television series Spartacus. He is also known for playing villain Azog in The Hobbit and as Slade Wilson in Arrow. His mother was an Australian bikini model and his father was a New Zealand singer. He performed as Marc Antony in Xena: Warrior Princess in the year 2000.
10. Parekura Tureia Horomia
Parekura Tureia Horomia was born on November 9, 1950 in Tolaga Bay, New Zealand and died there on April 29, 2013 at the age of 62 years. During his early schooling he used to walk daily, bare footed to and from his school, located at a distance of five kilometers. Starting as a common labor, he gained supervisory work and then entered politics. From 2000 to 2008, he served as Minister of Maori Affairs. He is also remembered for playing an important role in setting the Maori television. After his death, the Labor Leader David Shearer said that Horomia had ‘an incredible work ethic, traveling to all parts of the country. He was accepted at pretty much every marae in the country, he was incredibly well-liked, had enormous heart, who worked so hard for his people.’
Just as the Nazis during Hitler’s regime believed in their racial superiority, the British during the peak time of their colonialism believed in their cultural superiority. The Americans in modern times believe in their matchless power. Nothing more than the Nazi holocaust, the British colonialism and the American urbanization have damaged the cultural diversity of the people, the world over. On account of their self-assumed superiority, they had tried all the other cultures to adapt their cultures, and it is like trying to cultivate conifer forests in deserts or to grow cacti in Norway.