MAOR373-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

Whakaaro Wairua: Maori Spiritual Beliefs and Philosophies

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


This course explores Maori philosophies, thought and, what has been described in the literature as, "spiritual beliefs" across time. The course will look at Maori concepts such as tapu, mana, mauri, ihi, wehi, wana and others, how these concepts have changed and the factors that have given rise to new understandings of these. We will also explore the ongoing maintenance of these concepts in the face of Christianity and modernity.

This course explores Māori thought, philosophies and Māori spiritual beliefs across time. You will learn about a range of Māori concepts such as tapu, mana, mauri and ihi.
In addition to analysing and defining these concepts, MAOR373 looks at the how they have changed and the factors that given rise to new understandings of these terms.
In particular, this paper will provide and insight into how Māori thought has been influenced by European contact and religious influences like Christianity.    
MAOR373 also examines the ongoing maintenance of these concepts and what role they play in modern Māori society.
This course demonstrates the importance of Māori thought and provides a detailed exploration of how these concepts are still hugely significant in contemporary Te Ao Māori.
MAOR373 is especially useful for anyone who wishes to gain a much deeper understanding of Māori culture. Through critical analysis and detailed research, you will develop the skills to critique and review cultural contexts on an advanced level.
This paper explores a number of themes relevant to Māori policy. These concepts also form the back bone of many cultural objectives and highlight the frame of thought being used in various iwi and Māori organisations.  

To discover how Māori beliefs and philosophies can guide contemporary choices further examination is required
• Māori knowledge is often spoken of in terms of belief or spirituality, what position does indigenous knowledge hold in contemporary New Zealand and why?
• Science is the dominant form of creating knowledge based on the rational and evidential, but is it the only valid form of knowledge creation?
• Alongside European settlement came Christianity, what was the effect on Māori Belief? And what does this mean for authenticity?

Themes in this course are
• Theories and tools for analysing narratives about Māori beliefs
• Tikanga Māori including tapu, mana, wairua, utu, and mauri
• Māori cosmology
• Post contact change
• The Māori “conversion” to Abrahamic religions

Course Goal
• Explore Māori philosophies, spirituality, and belief to gain deeper insight into traditional and contemporary knowledge
• Understand how these concepts are known and perceived over time

Learning Outcomes
Students will
• Explore a deeper appreciation of Māori tikanga
• Be able to analyse assumptions for logic and validity
• Understand there are different types of knowledge and the place of Indigenous knowledge
• Consider where epistemologies may overlap or overreach

Why this Paper?
Understanding Māori paves a way to true engagement in New Zealand society and therefore points towards multiple pathways
• Policy analyst in Māori and Government organisations
• Community development roles especially within Māori and Iwi sectors
• Professional social services, education, and health sector roles that interface with Iwi and Māori organisations.
• Māori and Indigenous Research
• liaison
• Journalism

Transferrable Skills
This course contributes to the development of the following transferable skills
• Critical analysis
• Academic research and writing
• Logic analysis
• Presentation
• Theorising
• Working with paradoxes
• Cultural awareness


Any 30 points at 200 level from MAOR or
TREO, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA.



Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 11:00 - 13:00 Te Ao Marama 253
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 11:00 - 12:00 Te Ao Marama 253
22 Feb - 4 Apr
3 May - 6 Jun

Course Coordinator

Jeanette King


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Artefact analysis 20%
Article review 20%
Major essay 40%
Seminar 20%

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,570.00

International fee $7,000.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Aotahi School of Maori and Indigenous Studies .

All MAOR373 Occurrences

  • MAOR373-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021