Monday, 19 November 2007

Maori and Pakeha

In the first half of the 19c most Europeans referred to the native inhabitants of New Zealand as New Zealanders. How Maori referred to themselves was indicated by the Maori text of the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840 (of which more on another day) which used the expression 'tangata maori' - ordinary people - to describe them. In official usage, however, the word Native was used to describe the Government Department responsible for Maori affairs and the Land Court until 1946.

The Treaty of Waitangi used the term 'pakeha' to refer to Queen Victoria's non-Maori subjects in New Zealand. This word was used by Maori in the Bay of Islands to denote Europeans at least as far back as 1814 and was in widespread use among Maori by the 1830s.

Pakeha probably came from the pre-European word pakepakeha - mythical light-skinned beings.

The words Maori and Pakeha are in common usage by all New Zealanders today.

Although not relevant to the subject of this posting it is interesting to note that the number of Pakeha living in New Zealand in 1830 was just over 300. By 1840 it was just over 2000. By 1858 Pakeha outnumbered Maori by approximately 3000: 59,000 to 56,000. By 1881 there were around 500,000 Pakeha.

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