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Noteworthy Names: The Top 10 Moriori People You Should Know

The Moriori people is an indigenous group of New Zealand who are of Polynesian descent. They are known for their peaceful nature and unique cultural practices. Over the years, several Moriori individuals have gained popularity in various fields, including entertainment, sports, and politics. Here are ten influential and notable Moriori celebrities and personalities:

  • Ross Kapiti
  • Margaret Mutu
  • Optimus Gryme
  • Kadodo Kinaan
  • Maui Solomon
  • Daren Banfield
  • Kaenga Ongley
  • Lloyd Geering
  • Fredrick Craigie
  • H Mantell

1. Ross Kapiti: He is a well-known musician and producer. Ross has received several accolades for his contributions to the music industry, especially in the reggae genre.

2. Margaret Mutu: A prominent academic and activist, Margaret Mutu has been a vocal advocate for Maori and Moriori rights, particularly in relation to land and indigenous issues.

3. Optimus Gryme: Known as one of New Zealand’s top drum and bass producers, Optimus Gryme has gained international recognition for his music. His tracks have been featured in various films and television shows.

4. Kadodo Kinaan: A talented traditional dancer and performer, Kadodo Kinaan has captivated audiences with his exceptional skills and cultural artistry.

5. Maui Solomon: As a former professional rugby player, Maui Solomon represented New Zealand internationally. He was part of the successful All Blacks squad that won the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

6. Daren Banfield: A respected artist and carver, Daren Banfield showcases his Moriori heritage through his intricate woodwork and sculptures.

7. Kaenga Ongley: Kaenga Ongley is a well-respected historian and author who has extensively researched and written about Moriori history and culture.

8. Lloyd Geering: A renowned theologian and author, Lloyd Geering has made significant contributions to religious and philosophical discourses in New Zealand.

9. Fredrick Craigie: As a prominent community leader and advocate, Fredrick Craigie has played a crucial role in promoting Moriori culture and heritage.

10. H Mantell: H Mantell was an archaeologist and geologist known for his extensive research on the geology and fossils of the Chatham Islands, where the Moriori people originally settled.

These ten individuals from Moriori ethnicity have made notable contributions in various fields, representing the diversity and talent of the Moriori people.

Since the early 1900s the fact that Polynesians (who became the Māori) were the first ethnic group to settle in New Zealand (first proposed by Captain James Cook) has been accepted by archaeologists and anthropologists. Before that time and until the 1920s, however, a small group of prominent anthropologists proposed that the Moriori people of the Chatham Islands represented a pre-Māori group of people from Melanesia, who once lived across all of New Zealand and were replaced by the Māori. While this idea lost favour among academics, it was widely and controversially incorporated into school textbooks during the 20th century. Today, such theories are considered to be pseudohistorical and negationist by scholars and historians and racist by many observers, having been used to justify settler colonalism.In recent times, a greater variety of speculation of New Zealand's first settlers has occurred outside of academia. These ideas typically incorporate aspects of conspiracy theories as they are in opposition to the last 100 years of academic research. The common acceptance of these unsubstantiated theories has been used by prominent politicians and public figures to attack Māori politics and culture.

Most Famous Moriori People

Moriori’s Three Pinnacle Historical Inheritances

The Moriori community is an indigenous group of people native to the Chatham Islands, located off the coast of New Zealand. Despite facing significant challenges and adversity throughout their history, the Moriori have managed to preserve their rich cultural heritage. Through their traditions and practices, they have left behind a lasting legacy that continues to be celebrated and appreciated by both the Moriori community and the wider world. Here are three of the most well-known historical inheritances associated with the Moriori heritage:

  • The Principle of Non-Violence: One of the most notable aspects of the Moriori culture is their commitment to non-violence. This principle, known as Nunuku-whenua, guided their society for centuries and was the foundation for maintaining peace and harmony among the Moriori people. This philosophy led to the development of a unique social structure, where conflict resolution and negotiation were prioritized over aggression or warfare.
  • Sustainable Resource Management: The Moriori were renowned for their exceptional knowledge and understanding of the environment. They practiced sustainable resource management, utilizing their island home’s natural resources in a way that respected and preserved its delicate ecosystem. The Moriori engaged in sustainable fishing, agriculture, and hunting methods, ensuring the long-term viability of their community and fostering a deep connection with the land.
  • Oral Tradition and Cultural Practices: Despite limited written records, the Moriori preserved and transmitted their cultural heritage through oral tradition. Their rich mythology, legends, and historical accounts were passed down from generation to generation through storytelling. Additionally, the Moriori maintained strong cultural practices, including intricate woodcarving, weaving, and other artistic expressions, which continue to be cherished and celebrated today.

The Moriori community’s historical inheritances serve as a testament to their resilience and creativity. By embracing non-violence, practicing sustainable resource management, and preserving their oral tradition and cultural practices, the Moriori have not only survived but thrived, leaving a lasting impact on the world around them.

Factsheet About Moriori People

The Moriori are the indigenous Polynesian people of the Chatham Islands (Rēkohu in Moriori; Wharekauri in Māori), New Zealand. Moriori originated from Māori settlers from the New Zealand mainland around 1500 CE. This was near the time of the shift from the archaic to classic Māori culture on the main islands of New Zealand. Oral tradition records multiple waves of migration to the Chatham Islands, starting in the 16th century. Over several centuries these settlers' culture diverged from mainland Māori, developing a distinctive language (which started as a dialect but gradually became only partially mutually intelligible with Māori), mythology, artistic expression and way of life. Currently there are around 700 people who identify as Moriori, most of whom no longer live on the Chatham Islands.  During the late 19th century some prominent anthropologists mistakenly proposed that Moriori were pre-Māori settlers of mainland New Zealand, and possibly Melanesian in origin.Early Moriori formed tribal groups based on eastern Polynesian social customs and organisation. Later, a prominent pacifist culture emerged; this was known as the law of nunuku, based on the teachings of the 16th century Moriori leader Nunuku-whenua. This culture made it easier for Taranaki Māori invaders to nearly exterminate them in the 1830s during the Musket Wars. This was the Moriori genocide, in which the Moriori were either murdered or enslaved by members of the Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama iwi, killing or displacing nearly 95% of the Moriori population.
The Moriori, however, were not extinct, and gained aroha and recognition as New Zealand's second indigenous people during the next century. Their culture and language underwent a revival, and Moriori names for their islands were prioritised. In February 2020, the New Zealand government signed a treaty with tribal leaders, giving them rights enshrined in law and the Moriori people at large an apology, returning stolen remains of those killed in the genocide, and gifting NZD$18 million in reparations. On 23 November 2021, the New Zealand government enshrined in law the treaty between Moriori and the Crown. The law is called the Moriori Claims Settlement Bill. It includes an agreed summary history that begins with the words "Moriori karāpuna (ancestors) were the waina-pono (original inhabitants) of Rēkohu, Rangihaute, Hokorereoro (South East Island), and other nearby islands (making up the Chatham Islands). They arrived sometime between 1000 and 1400 CE."

The Ancient Heritage of Moriori Ethnic Groups

Moriori Ethnicity: References and Resources

Explore other famous people with Botlikhs, Icelanders and Mising roots, showcasing the diversity of ethnic backgrounds. Investigating influential individuals with diverse ethnic backgrounds tied to these Moriori origins unveils the interwoven tapestry of global cultures and their impactful contributions to the world.

As we continue to celebrate diversity and embrace the richness of different cultures, let us honor and draw inspiration from these remarkable individuals who have shaped our world. Thank you for joining us on this captivating journey.


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