Why are the Māori people, who arrived in the 1300s, so well recognized in NZ but Aboriginal Australians, who are said to be 65000 years old inhabitants, not so well recognized in Australia?

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I will be immigrating to either of these countries next year and was just reading about their history & culture, and found this weird.

The Europeans arrived in NZ just about 300 years after the Māori, yet majority of the cities/towns/hamlets you see in NZ are named after Māori names, Māori culture has been well integrated with the European culture and are very well recognized/respected, for example the Haka dance done on multiple occasions by the national rugby union team, the Māori name of NZ on the passport (Aotearoa), the Māori traditions and symbols etc.

But, you don’t see the same level of cognizance for Aboriginal Australians in Australia, even though they are said be 65000 years. There are hardly any cities named after Aboriginal names, no sign of Aboriginal culture integrated into the Australian lingo or cultural practices?

So, why does this incongruity exist between both the nations?

**EDIT**: Thank you so much for the detailed answers, everyone! I appreciate it dearly. Learnt a lot of new things today 🙂

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19 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Colonial forces genocided them extra hard. Kinda like how many don’t know the Ainu people of Japan. That’s why there’s so much land in Australia uninhabited.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Australia was declared by the British to be ‘Terra Nullius’ or ‘No Man’s Land’, as they didn’t see evidence of crops, villages or settlement. So when the First Fleet arrived in 1788, a settlement was established at will with no negotiation or reparation to the traditional owners. Any act by the Aborigines to keep their traditional grounds or to protest against the settlers was seen as a crime against the Crown, and punished harshly. Aboriginal languages were discouraged, and children were removed from their parents, tribes and culture to be taught the ‘right’ way.

To this day, there is still no ‘treaty’ between the Australian Indigenous people, the government, and the British Crown.

From the start, the British sought an arguably more peaceful settlement with the Māori, with the Treaty of Waitangi being a shared understanding between them and 540 chiefs. Tribes were allowed to keep their lands and their language, with these words being adopted by the settlers. Māori culture was embedded into the landscape from the start, and that has made a difference to the country’s attitude and ongoing progress.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The Maori had agriculture, population, technology and were more culturally unified, therefore were able to negotiate terms from a position of strength

The aboriginal Australians were hunter-gatherers split into many different tribes that spoke many different languages. Also they had no resistance to European diseases. So the Europeans faced small disorganised populations that were easily subjugated or exterminated.

There are however plenty of place names that are indigenous in origin, but not the major cities

Anonymous 0 Comments

Hundreds of places in Australia named with aboriginal names; Mandurah, Dardanup, Worongary, Nowra, Ballarat, etc.

Integration of Maori concepts into New Zealand is aided by; smaller size, the Maori language has minor differences depending on location but is fairly uniform compared with 300+ languages many of which have limited to no compatability with other languages. It’s also worth noting, a lot of the Maori adoption is geared towards the North Island Maori, e.g. Aotearoa is actually the name of the North Island not the entire country, there’s been a lot of South Island Maori who have criticised that decision, in the same way the dedicated Maori Parliament seats are mostly in the North, with one seat representing everyone from Wellington and the entire South Island, while Northern regions get individual representatives.

Anonymous 0 Comments

there are a lot of factors to this but I think the core one is

England never intended to colonise New Zealand.

actively setting up government over NZ as a colony happened really late and was partly done because a bunch of English citizens were moving there anyway

at that point they’d had *somewhat* friendly relations with the Māori for decades, so a treaty was drawn up, translated into Māori, and signed.

The Treaty of Waitangi is a contentious founding document because a key difference in meaning between the English and Māori texts meant that each side agreed to *different terms* of sovereignty.

But in Australia there was never any treaty. A core issue around indigenous rights and recognition in Australia is **there still isn’t a fucking treaty**.

aside from that, there is a practical advantage to New Zealand integrating Māori culture into “mainstream” pākeha society – and that is that there is a more or less singular Māori culture

Australia’s indigenous peoples formed hundreds of nations with hundreds of languages. There was an entire continent to spread over and tens of thousands of years to diverge. Australia can’t just put all government documents into English and Aboriginal, because there is no one Aboriginal language.

personally I think that this gets used as an excuse to not bother trying

Anonymous 0 Comments

My Maori roommate was extremely proud that the European powers did *not* successfully colonize New Zealand by force — the Maori were able to fight European colonizers off often enough that they had to sign a treaty (Waitangi). Obviously a lot of colonialist shit happened (which she ALSO had a lot to say about, since her mother had been sent to a colonialist boarding school to get assimilated properly, which fortunately failed). And obviously the treaty has a complicated history others have mentioned in this thread.

But she was extremely proud that in the face of repeated invasions, with superior arms (gunpowder weapons), and with the epidemic diseases that arrive with colonialism, the Maori still managed to hold off the European powers until the British had to sign a treaty with them to permanently settle there. They were unsuccessful at times, and *barely* held on at times, but they were able to force the 1840 treaty, and that is NO SMALL FEAT when you’re a small indigenous population facing European navies, gunpowder, and diseases.

Imagine successfully fending off European colonizers for 200 years (1642-1840) until they’re finally like, “I give up! We’ll have a treaty!” Hawaii held out *later* (1893), but not *longer* (European contact was 1778), and Hawaii was overthrown.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Wait 65,000 years old?? Freal?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Hello, my job involves engagement with various groups in Aotearoa NZ, so I can assist a bit.

Political expediency. One factor in the Declaration of Independence (prior to Te Tiriti) was France were sniffing around Christchurch, and the British needed to put some pen to paper. France were still lurking, and British settlers were becoming pretty feral and unruly in their towns. It secured the mutual trade and sovereignty interests of various Maori and The Crown to write Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

However, contrary to many posts in this thread, Maori are not a unified homogenous block. In my region alone there are three dialects of Te Reo (the language). Think of iwi as not ‘tribes’ but nations, and they all had their own motivations for signing, and many did not sign at all.

The British tried to walk it back as soon as they could, and kicked off the New Zealand Wars once the mask came off. The wars were won over decades through attrition and disease (often described as Britain’s Vietnam). Maori were no more resistant to European illnesses than anyone else.

Once colonial dominance was established, the usual land confiscations and forced suppression of culture commenced. Maori war veterans from WWII did not receive any benefits on return, unlike their Pakeha comrades. They became a suppressed underclass we don’t talk about and only looks good in comparison to the likes of South Africa and the US at the time.

The revival has only occurred in the past 3-4 decades, and it is a very precarious thing. The ‘certain demographic’ are as touchy about Maori being seen to get any reparations or representation as any other middle aged white person in the world are about their indigenous population.

The current government won the recent election in no small part due to bleating on about ‘Maori elites’ taking over critical water infrastructure under proposed and desperately needed reforms.

But yes, Australia are where we were in the 80s. Our current government thinks the 80s were great.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The Māori were armed with muskets and somewhat united.

The Indigenous Australians were not and very spread out over a harsh continent.

Anonymous 0 Comments

First up, Church Missionary groups from the UK took opportunities to reach New Zealand very early. This meant that Māori as a language was translated and written within a few years of colonists and missionaries arriving. There was no such effort for the many different Aboriginal languages in Australia. The Māori also responded to both the message from the missionaries and the educational opportunities they offered.

Those same Church groups in England also wielded significant political power (the same groups that campaigned against the transatlantic slave trade) in the UK. Having seen what was happening to native groups in Australia and other countries, they took a stand against forced colonization and pushed for a British Governor to be appointed and rights to be extended to Māori. This eventually led to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Regardless of the issues of interpretation of what the Treaty actually meant and the subsequent government land grabs in the Waikato and other places, the existence of the treaty affected how New Zealand society developed. The resurgence of Māori awareness of their cultural heritage in the 70s and the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal to address historic claims means that New Zealanders have spent over fifty years of effort into making things better, even if we can’t always make things right.

We have come a long way from my high school days in the 80’s, where compulsory Maori classes were a source of division in our little town. We still have a long way to go. I am proud to say that I am *tangeta tiriti* – a New Zealander because the treaty of Waitangi agrees that we can share this land with the *tangata whenua*.