Maori: A History of the Earliest Inhabitants of New Zealand

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This is a translation from the original Italian of the work of Dom Felice Vaggioli, an Italian Benedictine monk sent by his Order in 1879 to New Zealand. A Papal directive in 1883 asking missionaries to gather artifacts and information concerning indigenous peoples prompted and encouraged Vaggioli to extend and deepen his earlier studies of New Zealand. This text examines Maori life, customs and arts, as described in Vaggioli’s detailed, appreciative and yet frank appraisal, colored by his own world view.


“Vaggioli is able to give a very good account of the settlement of the Pacific and the origin and development of Maori society. He draws heavily on earlier works by Dr. A. Thomson who in 1859 published the first attempt of history as The Story of New Zealand, an Anglican missionary The Rev. Richard Taylor who published Te Ika a Maui, New Zealand and Its Inhabitants in 1855 and a Catholic Marist missionary, Fr. Catherine Servant who published a paper in the Annales de la Propaganda Fide 1841. These notes were actually copied out by a colleague who sent them to the Annales.
. . . Vaggioli’s text though is all in all a very penetrating and correct portrayal of the society and all its aspects.” – David Simmons, Assistant Director, Auckland War Memorial Museum

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by David Simmons
1. The human family
2. The Oceanic-American Family
3. How and by whom New Zealand was settled
4. The Maori individual
5. Tattooing
6. The Maori Language
7. The New Zealanders’ clothing
8. The Maori hut
9. Marriage among the Maori
10. The New Zealanders’ offspring
11. Routine of the Maori in peacetime
12. The food of the Maori
13. Maori Society
14. Muru and Tapu of the Maori
15. Maori villages
16. Religious beliefs and superstitions of the Maori
17. The New Zealanders’ crafts, arts and sciences
18. Maori Warfare and their system
19. The New Zealanders’ cannibalism
20. Funerals and funeral services of the Maori

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