Māoris' Polynesian ancestors came to New Zealand between 800 and 1300 AD. There are many theories about where the Maori came from. Perhaps they arrived from somewhere in tropical Polynesia, perhaps from the Cook Islands or the Society Islands. Whatever the place has been given the name Hawaiki.
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. Māori 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. They won many difficult battles and stayed strong when they were in danger.
Today, about 600,000 Māori people live in New Zealand. They are an important part of the country's culture. This is why they have received special rights from the Government of New Zealand. Their native language, the Māori language, is an official language of the country. The New Zealand Government have allowed Māori people to keep their culture alive.
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