The Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. The Maori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages at some time between 1250 and 1300 CE. Over several centuries in isolation, the Polynesian settlers developed a unique culture that became known as the “Maori”, with their own language, a rich mythology, distinctive crafts and performing arts. Early Maori formed tribal groups, based on eastern Polynesian social customs and organization. Horticulture flourished using plants they introduced, and later a prominent warrior culture emerged.
It turned out to be a fulfillment of a prophecy for the Maori’s at the Ruaihona Marae in Te Teko, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand when a delegation from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community visited their Marae on Saturday, February 2, 2013.
Approximately 40 members of the community led by the National President New Zealand Mr Mohammad Iqbal took a 4 hour journey from Auckland to present the elders of the village with copies of the Holy Qur’an translated into Te Reo Maori, and three other booklets translated into Te Reo Maori.
The delegation received the traditional Maori welcome known as powhiri organized by the Maori elders of the Marae. The protocols involved the ‘Karanga’, which is a unique form of female oratory in which one of the women from the tribe extends a cultural expression to the first calls of welcome. At this stage the delegation walked across the Marae grounds and entered the Wharenui. This phase of the protocol involved the ‘whaikorero’ where formal speeches were made by the host speaker who welcomed the delegates and offered their hospitality. At the end of his speech, a traditional song known as the ‘waiata’ was sung by the Maori hosts. The hosts were also represented by the first Maori Ahmadi Muslim, Matthew Abu Bakr Howell and his wife Vicky Howell who were part of the welcoming committee.
The arrival of Europeans to New Zealand starting from the 17th century brought enormous change to the Maori way of life. Maori people gradually adopted many aspects of Western society and culture. Initial relations between Maori and Europeans were largely amicable, and with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 the two cultures coexisted as part of a new British colony. Rising tensions over disputed land sales led to conflict in the 1860s. Social upheaval, decades of conflict and epidemics of introduced disease took a devastating toll on the Maori population, which went into a dramatic decline. But by the start of the 20th century the Maori population had begun to recover, and efforts were made to increase their standing in wider New Zealand society. Traditional Maori culture has enjoyed a revival, and a protest movement emerged in the 1960s advocating Maori issues.
In the 2006 census, there were an estimated 620,000 Maori in New Zealand, making up roughly 15% of the national population. They are the second-largest ethnic group in New Zealand, after European New Zealanders (“Pakeha“). In addition there are over 120,000 Maori living in Australia. The Maori language (known as Te Reo Maori) is spoken to some extent by about a quarter of all Maori, and 4% of the total population, although many New Zealanders regularly use Maori words and expressions, such as “kia ora“, in normal speech. Maori are active in all spheres of New Zealand culture and society, with independent representation in areas such as media, politics and sport.
In response to the opening address by the Maori elder, the National President Mr Mohammed Iqbal spoke briefly in Maori and reverted to English to outline the purpose of the visit and extraordinary significance of the visit.
He said this was also the first time that the waqf e nau children, who have been dedicated to serve humanity, have had the opportunity of a formal welcome on a Marae in New Zealand.
The significance of the visit was highlighted during the discussion when the village elders acknowledged a prophecy of their Maori Prophet TeKooti who had prophesied that the people of the Peace Prophet from the East will come to their Marae with his message. In this regards, the Peace Prophet is none other than the Holy Prophet (May the blessings of Allah be upon him) and this message was the Holy Qur’an.