The spiritual world is highly significant in Maori culture, it was a belief that shaped their culture, it shaped their perception on the world. In 1810 the Tamaki isthmus was hit by an influenza epidemic, and it wasn’t the first one either. The Maori believed that their land had been invaded by an evil spirit, because previously to European settlement “Maori did not suffer the common infections ailments.” Pg 80. This is significant because it expresses how Maori were unaware, and had no expectation that colonisation would bring so much damage to their population. Diseases such as influenza would have been filtered out during the Polynesian migration. This results in Maori not being immune to such diseases, therefor making a much more significant impact of declining the population. Maori later abandoned the land that had been infected by influenza in hopes of “ameliorating the impact of epidemics.” This highlights how afraid Maori were of evil spirits, and that to them leaving infected land was a smarter option than staying. The epidemics are significant because they communicate how Maori had to survive the changing world. Since they never had to face such painful epidemics before settlement, “Maori medical practise is rather sparse” which highlights how it is most likely that “Maori had a theory of illness based on spiritual causation.” Unfortunately this meant they were unprepared for the invasion of disease, they knew no other way to fight it other than leaving their infected lands.


Walker, Ranginui. Tauiwi. Capture 5.









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