Maori visit to explore ancient cultural ancestry with Taiwan

Staff Reporter

Last fortnight, Indian Newslink Editor visited Taiwan as a guest of the Republic of China. Several articles on this visit, carrying gist of discussion, forecast for growth and potential for greater economic cooperation with photographs, charts and other information appear in this issue under our ‘Taiwan Special.’

The ‘Taiwan Special’ will continue in our September 15, 2018.

The relations between Taiwan and New Zealand go back to thousands of years connecting to the Maori tribes. Over the years, the cultural and literary connections have been enhanced through exchange visits, discussions and exhibitions.

The Ngati Manu Tribe

As a part of that constructive and continuous engagement, a group of Maoris from the Ngati Manu tribe in New Zealand’s Karetu region is currently on a visit to Taiwan to explore their cultural roots.

The Cabinet-Level Council of Indigenous Peoples, (CIP) in Taiwan sponsored the visit under the ‘Hawaiki Project,’ an initiative of the Maori tribe aimed at fostering awareness of indigenous identity among their young generations.

The visit will bolster ties with culturally connected overseas communities along the Polynesian migration pathway from Taiwan to New Zealand.

Cultural Exchange

Ten Maori teenagers are participating in the 11-day cultural exchange programme.

CIP is also arranging for 10 young members of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes to travel to New Zealand to attend ‘Waitangi Day’ on February 6, 2019.

CIP Minister Icyang Parod said that numerous studies have indicated that Taiwan’s indigenous tribes and the Maori people share a cultural, genetic and linguistic heritage.

“The Hawaiki Project is an excellent platform for uncovering connections between the Austronesian-speaking groups,” he said.

Arapeta Hamilton, Hereditary Leader of the Ngati Manu tribe, thanked the Minister and CIP officials for their support of the programme.

Warmth and Hospitality

While the journey from New Zealand to the Maori’s ancestral land in Taiwan was long, the participants enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of the Taiwanese people, he said.

Major activities on the group’s itinerary included attending the annual Harvest Festival of the Amis tribe held on August 24 and 25, 2018 in Eastern Taiwan’s Hualien County.

The participants also visited Southern Taiwan to learn about the customs of the Paiwan tribe, and attended classes on traditional music and dance and hunting and weaving practices at the Indigenous Peoples Cultural Development Center in Pingtung County.

Indigenous Population

Indigenous Malayo-Polynesian peoples have lived in Taiwan for millenniums. The latest CIP statistics reveal that the population of the Taiwan’s 16 officially recognised tribes stands at 530,000, or 2.3% of the nation’s total of 23.5 million.

Taiwanese aborigines can be traced to many parts of the world.

They moved through the Philippines, Indonesia and other Melanesian Islands such as Papua New Guinea. As they went, there was intermarriage and they reached remote parts of Polynesia more than 2500 years ago. They reached New Zealand about 700 years ago.

Austronesian Groups

According to Wikipedia, ‘Taiwanese Aborigines’ is a term commonly applied in reference to the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, estimated to constitute 2% of the population of Republic of China. Although Taiwanese indigenous groups hold a variety of creation myths, recent research suggests their ancestors may have been living on the islands for approximately 8000 years before major Han Chinese immigration began in the 17th century, Taiwanese aborigines are Austronesian peoples, with linguistic and genetic ties to other Austronesian ethnic groups, such as peoples of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Polynesia, and Oceania.

Another Group visit

Another group of Maoris from Karetu in North Island, arrived in Taiwan on August 22, 2018 on a cultural roots-searching tour.

The 18 Karetu people, including 10 teenagers, received a warm welcome from Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka at the Executive Yuan.

Kolas, who is a member of Taiwan’s indigenous Amis tribe, told the press that the visiting Māori tribe believes their forefathers were from the island.

The NSP initiative

The ‘New Southbound Policy’ (NSP), a key plank in the national development strategy of Taiwan, seeks to strengthen Taiwan’s agricultural, business, cultural, education, tourism and trade ties with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.

Photo Caption:

CIP Minister Icyang Parod (front, second left) exchanges gifts with Arapeta Hamilton (front, left), hereditary leader of the Ngati Manu tribe, alongside participants in the Hawaiki Project on August 23 in New Taipei City. (Courtesy of CIP)

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