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You Say Folk Lore We Say Kiwiana


New Zealand is not really old enough to have magical folklore as such, we were settled about 150 years ago, wait let me rephrase that, Europeans did not really settle in any great numbers here until about 150 years ago, around the late 1800’s and early 1900s with larges amounts of immigration happening after World War I and World War II, well after, it can be said, the time when magic was something other than fairy tales that you told children. 

This means that Magical Folk Lore, from far of places like Europedidn't really make it here, and if they did it didn't really stick.  New Zealand was a pretty harsh and isolated place to live for those early settlers. 

 The Maori have been here a bit longer, with their estimated time of arrival being somewhere in the middle of the 13th Century (1250 – 1300).  This is a very difficult thing to pinpoint as much of the housing, clothing, weapons and things require for living were made from very natural materials, and thus did not last the test of time so that they could be dug up by intrepid anthropologist and carbon dated to give an accurate reading.  There are a few objects, which can be found in our museums,  but for the most part there was not very much, so we have I believe relied on a combination of myths, educated guesses, geology, and the few items that have been found to give us and idea about when the Maori people arrived and settled in Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud.

 The  Maori People who on the one hand, have been here longer, have a culture and tradition that is steeped in Magic and deeply spiritual lore, however we as Pakeha understand that this is not our culture so to speak, and do not want to be seen to be stealing said culture. 

On the other hand Maori Spirituality is our nation’s civic spirituality, the guardian if you will of our public buildings, schools, libraries, and the like.  The Maori culture is also something that can be difficult to completely understand and the use or nonuse of it is littered with so much conflict, politics, anger and unhappy outcomes that it can be better to just mind your manners and be respectful and thoughtful all things Maori. 

I know for sure that the majority of Kiwi Pagans want to be able to honour the spirituality of this land that was here before the settlers, aka Maori deity, culture and spirituality, but also do not want to go so far as to misappropriate as that would be rude. I did a study on this back for Honours when I was at university. 

Also by the time that settlers arrived here Magic had pretty much been deligated to the realm of superstitions and fairy tale. 


 So what this all means is that for those of us who lean towards a more ‘traditional’ style of magical witchcraft practice, there is no obvious folklore for use to use, as such, especially if we are also interested in practicing the magic of the land we physically live in.   

 So what is a Urban Witch to do, sure some folklore made its way over here via the various settlers and where they come from, but like I said before it was less magical folk lore and more customs and culture, because by the late 1800’s and early 1900’s people no longer believed in magic in the same way.  Maori spirituality however has become New Zealand’s Civic Spirituality, it is how we open parliament, bless new public buildings, schools and public spaces.  It is pretty much what we as a nation turn to when we need formal ceremonies and that in and of itself is magical. 

 We do have something that we call Kiwiana, which is as I see it, a precursor to Folklore,  and something that is going to be the topic of my blogging here, along the practicalities of being a practicing Witch who is born and bread in New Zealand.    I will also be cross posting the posts to my main blog, Another Witches Blog

 Bibliography of sorts

 King, Michael - The Penguin History of New Zealand 2003 (

Lind, Polly (yup that’s me)  The Appropriation of Maori Spirituality into Paganism in New Zealand.  2003ish also if you want a copy if could probably hunt you one down, it is not very long, it is however in the form of an academic essay.. J

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Kia Ora and Welcome, to my little corner of the interwebs, I’m Polly, a Tea Drinking, Urban Witch and Textile Artist.  This is where I write about being a practicing Witch in New Zealand, all the way  down here in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are opposite to that of the Northern Hemisphere and we cast our circles in an anti-clock wise direction as our sun and moon tracks north, not south.  That’s right we do a lot of things about face in the Southern Hemisphere, but I will tell you one thing, *whispers* your moon I noticed, when I was visiting Canada a couple years back, your moon its upside down.. just so you know. *winks* Here you will find musings on seasons, magic, sewing,  the sacred and tea,  as well as various reviews written about books, cards, and podcasts.  I hope you enjoy.  *sips tea*


  • Jamie
    Jamie Wednesday, 04 September 2013

    Many thanks for sharing!

    New Zealand is a fascinating part of the Anglosphere.

    I have a question. When I was watching the extra features on a "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" DVD, the word Maori was pronounced, 'MAY-ree' during an interview. I've heard other Kiwis pronounce it like, 'may-OR-ee'.

    Which way is the correct way? Are they both right? Or is there a subtle nuance of the language that I'm missing...and I didn't hear it correctly?

  • Mistress Polly
    Mistress Polly Thursday, 05 September 2013

    hh pronunciation, can be both an age thing, and a regional thing. so short answer to your question is yes and no..

    let me explain.. back when i was a lass late 80'sish Maori was pronounced Maaroie which was before the big revival of Maori as New Zealand Second Language, since then Pronunciation has change to be more correct? nicer? and i think more accurate to how the language was spoken before european influence.. or so the story goes.

    so i have found a pronunciation guide for you i hope it is helpful!

    which sould help.. ? there is even audio on how vowels are pronounced.. now let me tell you a secret.. i am pants at good pronunciation from written and usually have to here it first and then practice like hell to get it right.. it took me months to learn how to say Papatūānuku, which is the name for the earth mother..


  • Jamie
    Jamie Friday, 06 September 2013

    Tena rawa atu koe!

    (Apologies for some missing symbols...)

    Many thanks!

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