Maori NZ: Christchurch & Canterbury

Only 14% of NZ's Māori live on the South Island, and of those, half live in Canterbury. The first major tribe to become established here were Waitaha, who were subsequently conquered and assimilated into the Ngāti Māmoe tribe in the 16th century. In the following century, they in turn were conquered and subsumed by Ngāi Tahu (www.ngaitahu.iwi.nz), a tribe that has its origins in the East Coast of the North Island.

In 1848 most of Canterbury was sold to the crown under an agreement which stipulated that an area of 10 acres per person would be reserved for the tribe; less than half of that actually was. With so little land left to them, Ngāi Tahu were no longer able to be self-sufficient and suffered great financial hardship. It wasn't until 1997 that this injustice was addressed, with the tribe receiving an apology from the crown and a settlement valued at $170 million. Part of the deal was the official inclusion of the Māori name for the most spiritually significant part of the tribe's ancestral land: Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Today, Ngāi Tahu is considered to be one of Māoridom's great success stories, with a reputation for good financial management, sound cultural advice and a portfolio including property, forestry, fisheries and many high-profile tourism operations.

There are many ways to engage in Māori culture in Canterbury. Artefacts can be seen at Canterbury Museum, Akaroa Museum, Okains Bay Māori & Colonial Museum and South Canterbury Museum. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch has a replica Māori village and an evening cultural show. Further south in Timaru, the Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre has interactive displays and arranges tours to see centuries-old work in situ.