Their Polynesian ancestors came to New Zealand between 800 and 1300 AD. Where the Maori arrived from is still unclear and there are many theories, but one of them is that they arrived from somewhere in tropical Polynesia, perhaps from the Cook Islands or the Society Islands.
Before Europeans came to New Zealand, the Māori did not need a name for themselves as a people. After Europeans came to New Zealand, the indigenous people called themselves Māori, which means "normal" or "ordinary". They called other people, especially those who came from Britain, "Pākehā". Today, in New Zealand English "Pākehā" is sometimes used as a name for New Zealand Europeans.
During World War II, Māori soldiers were famous as brave warriors because they won many difficult battles and stayed strong in the face of danger.
Today, there are about 600,000 Māori people living in New Zealand. As an important part of the country's culture, they have received special rights from the Government of New Zealand. Their native language, the Māori language, is an official language of the country, and they have been allowed to keep their culture alive.
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