In a nod to their Polynesian culture, Maori welcome songs harken friends from the sea onto the shore. They are filled with the Maori’s unique facial expressions and calls, and many might recognize the Hakas, or traditional war dances.
What You Need To Know
- Maori are native Polynesians
- They will be joining other native cultures at this year's American Indian Arts Celebration
- Visitors can expect food, demonstrations and fun
This year, Maori from New Zealand are in Florida to welcome visitors to the Seminole Indians Big Cypress Reservation for the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museums American Indian Arts Celebration.
They’ll share their dance, arts, music and craftsmanship, thanks to the group “Haka: A Maori Cultural Experience.”
Maori martial arts teacher Taane Te Koi yields a chiefly weapon called a Tewhatewha in demonstrations. The weapon is used to silently signal warriors and to fight their enemies.
One side of the staff is flat and the other side is curved.
“So they are used for different things,” Te Koi said, holding first the flat side, which is used mainly “to knock a person out.” Flipping it over, Te Koi runs his hand down the curved edge.
“And then cutting on this side,” he said.
Maori arts practitioner James Webster performs in a garment of honor — a feather-adorned cloak called a korowai.
He makes many of his musical instruments, practices Maori tattooing and is himself adorned with Ta Moko — traditional tribal tattoos — including on his face.
“It’s actually something that’s been going through a revival process since about the late 80s, sort-of 90s,” said Webster. “So there’s a lot more people getting facial tattoo — Moko. So, energy rising as the culture strengthens, so does our self-expression.”
It’s this sentiment that pushes the Maori to not only share their indigenous culture, but to travel halfway around the world to venerate another.
The American Indian Arts Celebration is happening at Big Cypress Reservation hosted by the Seminoles Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on November 4-5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There will be other indigenous people from North America to share their culture, as well as Seminole arts, crafts, food, and alligator wrestling demonstrations.