Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Maori of New Zealand

 Lesson 44 of Volume II of The Mystery of History is all about "The Maori of New Zealand," the native people of these large, Polynesian islands in the South Pacific Ocean.
After reading all about them in our text (pages 257-260), we looked them up in The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, a book I use often to supplement our history lessons.
 We found them on pages 274-275 of the same.
 A few years ago, my parents visited New Zealand and brought back these two Maori dolls for Maggie.  I was so excited to pull them out for this lesson!
 On this doll, you can see the moko tattooing on the face that was customary for the Maori.
And on this doll, you can see a large charm worn around the neck.
 From the content in the Usborne book, we learned that it was a good luck charm depicting an ancestor.  The eyes are bulging and the tongue is out because this was the Maori's tradition during their war dances (called Haka): bulging their eyes and sticking their tongues out as far as they would go, with the intention of intimidating their enemies.
 Also in the Usborne book, we learned about the carved heads of Easter Island, another island in the Pacific, though not part of New Zealand.  (This is why it was not mentioned in the text.)  But I thought it was worth discussing.  Some of them are over 40 feet tall!
 We have the Safari, Ltd. "World Landmarks" Toob (pictured below), which includes these carved heads, so I took it out for Maggie to see.
Neat!  I think this would be fun to use in a diorama this year when we study Oceania when we start our new geography curriculum.  (Stay tuned ...)
 A species unique to New Zealand is the kiwi bird.  (Isn't it adorable?!)  It was named this by the Maori because of the sounds it makes -- "kee wee."
We were fortunate to have a kiwi souvenir, too, from my parents' trip.
When you press the belly, it makes the sound of a kiwi, so we were able to hear it.  It's quite loud!
The text says, "... the name 'kiwi' has further been used to describe a little round, brown, fuzzy fruit -- probably because it looks like the bird!  Though kiwi fruit is not originally from New Zealand ..."
In the activities section (page 261), there is a suggestion to make a cute, little kiwi bird out of a kiwi fruit.  Of course, this sounded too fun to pass up!  Here is our bird's body.
 Instead of using a permanent marker to make the eyes as instructed by the text, I remember I had these fun googly eye push pins.  Perfect!
 We used a toothpick for the beak, and brown cardstock for the feet, and our fruit was looking more and more like the bird!  Maggie loved this!
We did an image search of the Maori people and found plenty of them with their moko tattoos and war faces on.
 Even their wooden carvings had this face!
Maggie practiced her own Maori war face in her bathroom mirror.
 I think it was intimidating enough!  Silly girl!
 We learned from our reading in the text that New Zealand was also home to the moa, a now extinct, flightless bird that had a powerful kick.  We learned about the moa two years ago and its story was what triggered Maggie's passion for endangered/extinct species.  (Since, we have accumulated quite a collection of books on the subject and she is a walking encyclopedia of facts about it.  Ah, homeschooling.)  To review what we knew about the moa, we read page 28 out of our Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals book by Steve Jenkins.
Here is what the moa looked like.
 It could grow up to thirteen feet tall (WHOA!) and so using our tape measure, we measured out thirteen feet along our hallway.  This would be Maggie's height next to a tall moa bird if its head hit the wall at the end of the hallway.  That was one BIG bird!
 (Our tape measure actually measured only 12 feet, hence the reason Maggie was scooted down in the picture.)
Finally, Maggie wrote out the longest word in the Maori language.  It is LOOOOONG!  The text says it's "a name meaning 'the hilltop where Tamatea Polai Whenua played his flute to his loved one.' "  The word is ...
Whew!  Try saying that three times fast.  Or even once.
We had a great time learning about the Maori people!  I hope one day we will get to visit New Zealand, too!


  1. Looks like fun! We will have to see if our library has Almost Gone. We love Steve Jenkins books and my 4 year old is quite interested in endangered species right now.

  2. I'm also curious, which geography curriculum will you all be working on? You choose the best in my opinion!

    1. Hi, Elizabeth! Thank you so much! We are starting a yearlong international geography study with Galloping the Globe. Then next year, we will be following that with a yearlong national geography study with Cantering the Country. We are actually teaming up with a couple of other kids in a co-op for this. We will do all of our personal learning at home, then every other Friday, will meet with our co-op to talk about our individual projects, enjoy food native to the country we are on, and do one, fun group project together before moving onto the next country. We are very excited about it! It actually starts next month!

  3. That is wonderful. I almost chose GTG globe for next year. My son saw a commercial for Little Passports at my parents and begged for them. I decided to study 1 country each month to go with little passports and we will supplement with books, projects and food. I'm getting a few books from gtg booklist. I'm curious if you haave any book suggestions you will be using that is not on GTG suggested books

    1. We will be rereading some of our FIAR books, but many of those are already listed in the GTG guide. We will also be using a lot of Usborne books, but I am adjusting the GTG a lot because Maggie is older. She will be required to do her own research (using materials I approve) to study and answer questions about each country, even things not listed in GTG, like exports. We are tying it in with our existing Mystery of History binder. And instead of a passport, she will get a sticker on a laminated suitcase for every country we study. (We have exhausted the passport thing over the years.) I will start posting about my plans soon. We are actually headed out of town Friday for 10 days, and on that trip, I will be finalizing a lot of my GTG plans. Stay tuned! I will be sharing soon!

  4. I've got another question for you. The book Children Just Like Me is on GTG's booklist. If you own that book, did you get the old one or the new version. I hear the old one is a bit dated, but the new one shows controversial lifesyles. I wanted your thoughts on this?

    1. I got the older one, the one published in 1995. I did that mainly for price reasons. I got it very inexpensively and didn't think there would be enough different from the new one that would warrant me spending more. After all, it's only supplemental. I had not heard the "controversial" part but that would have been another reason for me to pick up the older version, for sure. And I don't think the concepts are that dated. The only thing that I see is dated is the children's clothing, but the geographical and cultural information is the same. I am happy with the older version.