Iwi (Māori pronunciation: [ˈiwi]) are the largest social units in Aotearoa (New Zealand) Māori society. The Māori-language word iwi roughly translates to "people" or "nation", and is often translated as "tribe", or "a confederation of tribes". The word is both singular and plural in the Māori language. Māori use the word rohe to describe the territory or boundaries of iwi.Iwi groups trace their ancestry to the original Polynesian migrants who, according to tradition, arrived from Hawaiki. Some iwi cluster into larger groupings that are based on whakapapa (genealogical tradition) and known as waka (literally "canoes", with reference to the original migration voyages). These super-groupings generally serve symbolic rather than practical functions. In pre-European times, most Māori were allied to relatively small groups in the form of hapū ("sub-tribes") and whānau ("family"). Each iwi contains a number of hapū; among the hapū of the Ngāti Whātua iwi, for example, are Te Uri-o-Hau, Te Roroa, Te Taoū, and Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei.
In modern-day New Zealand, iwi can exercise significant political power in the recovery and management of land and of other assets. (Note for example the 1997 Treaty of Waitangi settlement between the New Zealand Government and Ngāi Tahu, compensating that iwi for various losses of the rights guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840.) Iwi affairs can have a real impact on New Zealand politics and society. A 2004 attempt by some iwi to test in court their ownership of the seabed and foreshore areas polarised public opinion (see New Zealand foreshore and seabed controversy).

View More On Wikipedia.org
Back Top