The KNOWLEDGE of our ancestors: matauranga maori

I wonder what it was like for my ancestors when they crossed the Pacific Ocean from Hawaiki to Aotearoa, New Zealand. Paddling an enormous waka for days and nights, guided by the stars. Bringing with them the hopes and dreams of their people. What gives me confidence is that they had matauranga Māori.

An introduction to mātauranga Māori – Māori knowledge.

Te manu kai i te miro nōna te ngahere.
Te manu kai i te mātauranga nōna te ao.

The bird that feeds on the miro, theirs is the forest.
The bird that feeds from the tree of knowledge, theirs is the world.

WHAT IS matauranga maori?

Many cultures have beliefs and traditions. Equally, Māori is no different. One such tradition is the Māori knowledge, and the Maori way of knowing is matauranga Māori. This knowledge is shared in moteatea (chants), waiata (songs), whaikorero (oratory speech), pepeha (quotations), whakapapa (geneaologies), purakau (stories), kawa (protocol) and tikanga (customs).

Some examples of matauranga Maori are:


Matariki is held in mid-winter every year. A cluster of stars (Pleiades) rises in mid-winter marking the start of the Māori New Year. The next celebration is on Friday 24 June, the inaugural Matariki public holiday. The holiday will shift each year depending on the appearance of the Pleiades in the sky.


While the Māori lunar calendar (Maramataka) means the turning of the moon. It marks the moon’s phases in a lunar month. During a typical lunar month, some days are favourable for harvesting, while others are not. Fishing and planting food by the way of the moon, the tides, and the elements are still common today.

rongoa maori – traditional maori healing

This traditional Māori healing system covers practices like native plant medicines, massage, customs, prayer, and incantations. More recently, Rongoa Māori Medicine has become popular as people seek more effective healing in their own ngahere (bush). There has also been an interest in using Rongoa in natural medicine. Natural health practitioners and herbalists seek healing, traditional uses, and knowledge.


As a tool to help our children learn from the past to navigate the future Sir Ian Taylor, animation entrepreneur, developed ‘Matauranga’. This tool helps tamariki learn about the footsteps laid down by our polynesian ancestors centuries ago. The voyage of discovery, technology, and innovation. How Polynesian navigators on mighty waka crossed the Pacific Ocean, guided only by their kinship to the natural world.

Watch the video to find out more about the voyage of our ancestors from Sir Ian Taylor. (Credit: LOV Nau Mai Ki Te Land of Voyagers).

As these examples demonstrate it is by following matauranga Maori we are staying true to the foundations of our ancestry for the benefit of future generations.

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