Best books about Maori people

Māori People: 9 Best Books About the Indigenous tribe of New Zealand

Maori are New Zealand’s indigenous people who migrated more than 1000 years ago from a mythical Polynesian native land of Hawaiki. For several centuries, Maori people lived a life of isolation. These settlers developed their own unique culture, language, crafts, and mythology.

Today, one in seven people of New Zealand identify themselves as Maori. They are the second-largest ethnic group in the country. A few thousand Maori people have settled in Australia as well. The native Maori people speak their language called Te Reo Māori, which became New Zealand’s official language in 1987. However, today the language is spoken only by a fifth of their total populace.

In the 17th century, when the Europeans arrived in New Zealand, the Maori people adopted their uniqueness, impacting their traditional lifestyle. The European visitors started calling them New Zealanders or natives, but they insisted on being known as Maori people or Tangata Whenua (people of the land).

The Maori people have always been acknowledged for their power and tactics in fighting. Erwin Rommel, the German general, and military theorist, was fond of these people. He appreciated Maori soldiers fighting competencies.

Give me the Maori Battalion, and I will conquer the world.

Erwin Rommel

Several historians and authors wrote books on Maori history, culture, cuisine, and customs. We’ve selected the top 9 books about the Maori people to give you insights into their magnificent culture and societal influence.

1. The Maori of New Zealand

1. The Maori of New Zealand

This book introduces New Zealand’s phenomenal indigenous tribe to the world. The writer Steve Theunissen mentions their history, compares their traditional cultural practices to the modern ones, and discusses the economy of the Maori people.

Steve Theunissen is a Kiwi freelance writer and teacher from New Zealand. He inscribed several books, among which The Maori of New Zealand is a fascinating work of art and research.

The book takes an in-depth look at New Zealand’s aboriginal culture. It explores the traditional lifestyle of the Maori people in contrast to modern European culture. The book explores each landscape with precision and accuracy, whether it’s their rich history or pious cultural and religious traditions.

Even though most Maori traditional practices are long gone, you can witness the stunning transformation of the modern Maori people through this book. The present Maoris are trying to reclaim their cultural identities. Hence, this book is an excellent tool to explore complete details about past, present, and current cultural and religious following in the region.

2. Tikanga Maori: Living By Maori Values

Matauranga Maori (Maori Knowledge) and Tikanga Maori remained very much out of sight and absent from school curricula for over a century. The majority of the country remained aloof and blissfully unaware of Tikanga Maori.


If you’re interested in understanding the genuine Maori ways of the past and its changes in the present, then Tikanga Maori: Living by Maori Values by Hirini Moko Mead is your ultimate book. 

Hirini Moko Mead is a prominent Maori leader and champion, advocating their past, present, and future in New Zealand. He has rare expertise in the Maori language, its original culture, and history.

The wide-ranging book explores the creative people of Maori land and the interactions between older and younger generations. From education to their cultural values, Moko Mead discusses their day-to-day lives and the challenges they face. 

For the Maori people, Tikanga emerged as a new area of study, leading to greater opportunities for the community. Tikanga is a Maori concept that incorporates the values and practices of Maori knowledge of the past. Through this book, the writer recommended teaching Tikanga in schools as well.

3. The Māori: The History and Legacy of New Zealand’s Indigenous People

I have always found them of a brave, noble, open, and benevolent disposition, but they are a people that will never put up with an insult if they have an opportunity to resent it.

3. The Maori history and legacy

Published by Charles River Editors, The Maori: The History and Legacy of New Zealand’s Indigenous People explores the roots of the aboriginal people of New Zealand. Charles River Editors create compelling and educational content, specializing in bringing historical events and people back to life through informative and engaging content.

In the book, a historic expedition reached New Zealand and discovered the indigenous people belonging to the land. The expedition expert grew curious about them with time and extended his stay in New Zealand for months. Initially, the stay was supposed to last for only a few weeks.

Charles River Editors explores in detail the history of the Maori people and their legacy. If you are interested in knowing who the Maori people are and where they originated, you should read this book. You’ll find tons of exciting information written with a compelling narrative sense.

4. Maori Made Easy

The difference between New Zealand and Maori language is in pronunciation, vocabulary, and idioms. Despite the dialectal differences, the Maori people are fluent in communication.

4. Maori made easy

Have you ever thought of learning the Maori language? The Maori people have different cultural, traditional, and religious values, but they also have a unique language. Many people from around the world wish to learn this language, but due to its complexity, the majority fail to grasp it.

Scotty Morrison’s Maori Made Easy is a perfect solution to this problem! Morrison is a professor and director of Maori Student and Community Engagement. He wrote Maori Made Easy for people who have a passion for learning this indigenous language. The book won 2016 Nga Kupu Ora Māori Book Award – Te Reo Māori.

This language guide offers easy Maori words, phrases, definitions, and much more. Each word connects a dot and enhances your Maori vocabulary. This ingenious book can help you become fluent in the Maori language.

5. Pounamu Pounamu

5. pounamu-pounamu

A collection of fictional short stories written by Witi Ihimaera, Pounamu Pounamu explores the true identity of the Maori people. Ihimaera is the first Maori writer, bringing the stories of Maori people to the public. He has written several books and edited many novels on arts and culture.

The book explores every aspect of the Maori people’s lives and identity and their importance to the New Zealanders. Witi Ihimaera, through this book, explores the feeling of belonging to New Zealand. What makes this book particularly interesting is that he narrates this from the perspective of the Maori.

Each story in this book is interconnected and urges the readers to recognize the Maori people’s struggles, efforts, and hardships. Life in New Zealand is different with its beautiful culture, religiousness, and rich tourism. And for people belonging to an indigenous tribe, it’s a unique story. 

They have an entirely different language, religious following, and cultural identities than the rest of New Zealand. Through this book, the writer tried to differentiate that contrast interestingly.

6. Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End

6. Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou Struggle Without End

Ranginui Walker beautifully crafted Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End, which is about New Zealand’s history from the Maori perspective. Walker is from Whakatohea of Opotiki. He contributed many research articles and books on the education, struggle, culture, and history of the Maori people.

The book explores the struggles Maori people had to undertake since the period of their origin. According to the book, the indigenous civilization faced numerous challenges, hurdles, and sacrifices. In the past 150 years, Maori people suffered from social injustice, inequality, and self-deprivation.

Walker writes about the past events from a unique point of view of the Maori people. He shares their perspective of the struggle they faced from the time of their origin to the present. The book’s exploration of Maori culture, its growth, and political influences leading to disastrous outcomes are exceptional.

7. Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History

7. Tangata Whenua An Illustrated History

Tangata Whenua is the winner of the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in the illustrated non-fiction category. The book is co-written by Atholl Anderson, a specialist in inscribing tribal history; Judith Binney, a historian with many books written about Maori communities; and Aroha Harris, a Ph.D. in Maori history.

The book explores the Maori history from ancient origins through the 21st century. Engaging and enthralling images and narratives captivate the readers till the end. The books offer a striking overview of the past and present of the Maori people, also known as Tangata Whenua, hence the book name.

Throughout the book, the writers join many threads of Maori people’s history and cultural values using compelling narratives and real-life images. The story illustrates the rich past, exciting present, and prospective future of the Maori people of New Zealand.

8. Colonising Myths – Māori Realities: He Rukuruku Whakaaro

8. Colonising Myths Maori Realities

Ani Mikaere is a solicitor and a barrister and specializes in Maori law and its philosophy. She has widely published books on the impact of colonization on the Maori people, their legal system, biculturalism, and self-determination.

The book Colonising Myths – Māori Realities: He Rukuruku Whakaaro brings together the series of papers written by Ani Mikaere. Through the book, Mikaere reflects on the effect and impact of Pākehā law. She talks about the legal processing and the teachings of the Maori people, their legal thoughts and practices.

Through this book, Ani Mikaere addresses the typical issues faced by the Maori people and their justice system. She emphasizes that achieving an optimal level of impartiality for the Maori people is a challenge. Through her book, she brings attention to the racism existing in New Zealand. 

She also brings to light the process and structure system of Maori law in contrast to New Zealand. Within the Pākehā legal system of justice, Mikaere laid stress over the importance of reinstating Tikanga (traditional Maori practices and values) to Maori legal practice and law.

9. Mau Moko: The World of Maori Tattoo

9. Mau Moko The World of Maori Tattoo

Ngahuia te Awekotuku inscribed this wonderful book that discusses the traditional world of Maori people and relates it to the myth and mystery behind their body tattoos. Awekotuku is an academic specialist in Maori culture and an energetic feminist activist.

Since the origin of the Maori world, moko, body, and facial tattoos have been a sign of pride and status. The book reveals that the Maori males have elaborate tattoos on their bodies and faces while women prefer delicate chin tattoos over body ones.

During the 20th century, the tradition of Maori tattoo started to fade but is now experiencing a robust revival. From young kids to adults, Maori people are embracing them once again. Wearing moko has now become a traditionally significant event.

Ngahuia te Awekotuku features case studies of modern Maori people who decided to get tattooed to declare their status, dignity, and prominence in New Zealand. Today, the moko is famous all over New Zealand.

We welcome you on a journey around the world as we explore works of 80 cherished authors around the world. We list their famous books, give you an overview, and connect you to the best book reviews by readers like you and me so that together we can learn stories from around the world.

Find more books about Indigenous Tribes of the World

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January 2022