Architecture of the Maori People

  • Michael Linzey
Reference work entry

The most striking fact about Maori architecture is that it is a living presence in the traditional heart of the community. When a New Zealand Maori orator stands to speak in front of a meetinghouse, he (or sometimes soon it may be she) addresses the house directly and in the same breath also addresses the assembled people. This fundamental understanding that the wharenui (meetinghouse) is a living presence is richer than any mere simile, it is beyond the idea of a metaphor or a representation in the European sense (Mead 1984). The house is not like an ancestor, it is the ancestor. Maori people conceive of cosmogenesis as an evolution in three parts: te kore is a nothingness condition of endless possibility, te po is a long night that is rich in potentiality, and te ao marama is the world of light which is to say the actuality of the real world. These three fundamental states of existence are represented on the door lintels of traditional architecture (Simmons 1985. 43–47). This...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Linzey

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