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Iwi

The meaning of «iwi»

Iwi (Māori pronunciation: [ˈiwi]) are the largest social units in Aotearoa (New Zealand) Māori society. The Māori-language word iwi means "people" or "nation",[1] and is often translated as "tribe",[2] or "a confederation of tribes". The word is both singular and plural in the Māori language. Māori use the word rohe to describe the territory or boundaries of iwi.[3]

Iwi groups trace their ancestry to the original Polynesian migrants who, according to tradition, arrived from Hawaiki. Some iwi cluster into larger groupings that are based on whakapapa (genealogical tradition) and known as waka (literally "canoes", with reference to the original migration voyages). These super-groupings generally serve symbolic rather than practical functions. In pre-European times, most Māori were allied to relatively small groups in the form of hapū ("sub-tribes")[4] and whānau ("family").[5] Each iwi contains a number of hapū; among the hapū of the Ngāti Whātua iwi, for example, are Te Uri-o-Hau, Te Roroa, Te Taoū, and Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei.

In modern-day New Zealand, iwi can exercise significant political power in the recovery and management of land and of other assets. (Note for example the 1997 Treaty of Waitangi settlement between the New Zealand Government and Ngāi Tahu, compensating that iwi for various losses of the rights guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840.) Iwi affairs can have a real impact on New Zealand politics and society. A 2004 attempt by some iwi to test in court their ownership of the seabed and foreshore areas polarised public opinion (see New Zealand foreshore and seabed controversy).

In Māori and in many other Polynesian languages, iwi literally means "bone".[6] Māori may refer to returning home after travelling or living elsewhere as "going back to the bones" — literally to the burial-areas of the ancestors. Māori author Keri Hulme's novel The Bone People (1985) has a title linked directly to the dual meaning of bone and "tribal people".

Many iwi names begin with Ngāti or with Ngāi (from ngā āti and ngā ai respectively, both meaning roughly "the offspring of"). Ngāti has become a productive morpheme in New Zealand English to refer to groups of people: examples are Ngāti Pākehā (Pākehā as a group), Ngāti Poneke (Māori who have migrated to the Wellington region), and Ngāti Rānana (Māori living in London). Ngāti Tūmatauenga ("Tribe of Tūmatauenga", the god of war) is the official Māori-language name of the New Zealand Army, and Ngā Opango ("Black Tribe") is a Māori-language name for the All Blacks.

In the southern dialect of Māori, Ngāti and Ngāi become Kāti and Kāi, terms found in such iwi as Kāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu/Kãi Tahu.

Each iwi has a generally recognised territory (rohe), but many of these overlap, sometimes completely.[7] This has added a layer of complication to the long-running discussions and court cases about how to resolve historical Treaty claims. The length of coastline emerged as one factor in the final (2004) legislation to allocate fishing-rights in settlement of claims relating to commercial fisheries.

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