The Maori warriors are strong emblematic figures in both the culture and history of the Maori as well as New Zealand as a whole.
The tattoos of the Maori Warriors
Warriors were considered to be people of high rank, which is why they would receive tattoos. They would receive tattoos to embellish them and to scare the enemy.
The cheeks, chin, nose, forehead, buttocks and thighs were all covered with tattoos as a symbol of manhood and accomplishment.
Maori warriors and the art of Mau Rakau
Mau rakau is the art of combat which the Maori have developed over the centuries. It combines specific fighting techniques with the use of traditional weapons such as the taiaha or the mere. This fighting art can only be mastered after years of practice and commitment.
Warriors had to work on their balance, timing as well as their coordination to be able to fight with the weapons effectively. They trained frequently with weapons as well as the poi. Although the poi is traditionally used for women dances, it allowed the Maori warriors to work on their coordination, improving their strength and flexibility in both their arms and hands.
Maori warriors fighting techniques and strategies
Maori warriors were very skilled and fierce. They mastered the art of ambush and surprise raids. They could surprise the enemy and disappear without a noise.
When facing the enemy, warriors would use psychology by intimidating their opponents thanks to their facial tattoos, and the 'peruperu', a war dance famous today as the haka.
War parties and raids, were organized to surprise the enemy. The warriors would wait until dawn before charging on the enemy. They would do so primarily to conquer a new territory, to gain more land, more food or to dilute the gene pool, in which case they would keep young women alive to have children.
It was not uncommon that the war partiesave got place to larger parties over the success of a battle. To capture the spirituality and status of a person of prestige, the warriors would eat them.
When the Europeans came to New Zealand, they were quite surprised by the courage of the Maori warriors. Their fighting techniques and war strategies were totally different from what the British had been accredited to.
Although the Maori were very poorly equipped as opposed to the British, they won many battles. Their traditional fortified villages were clearly a strong asset and allowed them to keep the upper hand on many occasions.