Image:marae_in.jpg|thumb|130px|right|''Wharenui'', carved meeting house on a marae]]
The East Polynesian ancestors of the Māori were hunters, fishermen and gardeners. After arriving in New Zealand, Māori had to rapidly adapt their material culture and agricultural practices to suit the climate of their new land, cold and harsh in comparison to tropical island Polynesia. Great ingenuity was required to grow the tropical plants they had brought with them from Polynesia, including [[taro]], [[sweet potato|kumara]], gourds, and [[yam (vegetable)|yams]]; this was especially difficult in the chillier southern parts of the country. The [[New Zealand flax|''harakeke'']] (flax plant) served as a replacement for coconut fronds and hibiscus fibre in the manufacture of mats, baskets, rope, fishing nets and clothing. Seasonal activites included gardening, fishing and the hunting of birds. Main tasks were separated for men and women, but there were also a lot of group activities involving food gathering & food cultivation, and warfare. Art was and is a prominent part of the culture as seen in the carving of houses, canoes, weapons, and other items. The people also wore highly decorative personal ornaments, and people of rank were often extensively tattooed.
==Dance and personal adornment==
The [[haka]] is just one of many kinds of group [[dance]] or performance. A number of different types of haka are performed depending on the occasion. There are haka of song and joy, and warlike haka.
There are various types of war haka - one performed without weapons, usually to express public or private feelings, is known as the "haka [[taparahi]]"; another, the [[peruperu]], is performed with weapons. In former times, the peruperu was performed before a [[battle]]. Its purpose was to invoke the god of war and to warn enemies of the fate awaiting them. It involved fierce facial expressions and grimaces, poking out of the tongue, eye bulging, grunts and cries, and the waving of weapons. If the haka was not performed in total unison, this was regarded as an bad omen for the battle. Often, warriors went naked into battle, apart from a plaited flax belt around the waist. The aim of the warriors was to kill all the members of the [[enemy]] war party, so that no survivors would remain to undertake revenge.
Image:Tiki.jpg|thumb|130px|right|''Hei-tiki'' neck pendant]]The hei-tiki, a small ornamental pendant usually made of pounamu and worn around the neck, is often incorrectly referred to as a ''tiki'', a term that actually refers to large human figures carved in wood, and, also, the small wooden carvings used to mark sacred places. One theory of the origin of the hei-tiki suggests a connection with Tiki, the god who created human life, in which case the hei-tiki is a symbol of fertility. Another less romantic theory holds that it served merely for personal adornment. The most valuable hei-tiki are carved from greenstone or pounamu. New Zealand greenstone consists of either nephrite (a type of jade, in Māori: pounamu) or bowenite (Māori: tangiwai). Pounamu is esteemed highly by Māori for its beauty, toughness and great hardness; it is used not only for ornaments such as hei-tiki and ear pendants, but also for carving tools, adzes, and weapons. Named varieties include translucent green ''kahurangi'', whitish ''inanga'', semi-transparent ''kawakawa'', and ''tangiwai'' or bowenite.
From the size and style of traditional examples of hei-tiki it is likely that the stone was first cut in the form of a small adze. The tilted head of the ''pitau'' variety of hei-tiki derives from the properties of the stone - its hardness and great value make it important to minimise the amount of the stone that has to be removed. Creating a hei-tiki with traditional methods is a long, arduous process during which the stone is smoothed by abrasive rubbing; finally, using sticks and water, it is slowly shaped and the holes bored out. After laborious and lengthy polishing, the completed pendant is suspended by a plaited cord and secured by a loop and toggle.
Image:maoriMoko.jpg|thumb|130px|right|''Kapa haka'' group members]]
As a cultural practice [[tattoo]]ing (''tā moko'') was brought by the Māori from their Eastern Polynesian homeland, and the implements and methods employed were similar to those used in other parts of Polynesia (see Buck 1974:296, cited in References below). It is thought that in traditional society many or most high-ranking persons were tattooed, and those who went without tattoos were seen as persons of lower [[social status]]; although Simmons (1997), cited below, contains references throughout to servants who were tattooed with patterns that signalled that they were the slave of a high ranking chief. The receiving of tattoos constituted an important milestone on a person's journey to maturity and was accompanied by many [[rites]] and [[rituals]]. According to Simmons, in both men and women, the patterns used were highly significant of a person's rank, skills, knowledge, personal life history, tribal affilations and genealogy; in contrast Buck (1974:298) thought that because tā moko experts travelled widely to carry out their art the designs would have related more to the tribal affiliations of the tattooist rather than those of the tattooed. Apart from signalling status and rank, another reason for the practice in traditional times was to make a person more attractive to the opposite sex.
The instrument used to tattoo in former times (up to 1925) was a bone chisel with an extremely sharp edge. The first stage of the tattoo started with the carving of deep grooves into the skin (see Simmons 1997:19). Next, the chisel was dipped into a sooty pigment such as burnt [[kauri]] gum which was then smeared into the skin. It was an extremely long and painful process, and often leaves from the [[karaka]] tree were placed over the swollen incisions to hasten the healing process. Women were not as extensively tattooed: with some exceptions, only their lips and chin were decorated. Simmons also mentions that the use of the painful traditional tattooing implements began to be abandoned in favour of grouped metal needles starting from about 1910 (ibid). In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the practice of tattooing for both men and women, as a sign of cultural identity and a reflection of the general revival of the language and culture; members of ''kapa haka'' (concert parties) often apply temporary markings to their faces to give an approximation of a tattooed appearance.