Maori Forts

The Pacific of a  thousand years ago was a vast place with many uninhabited islands. Two of the largest were the north and south islands of what is now New Zealand.

This Jurassic place was home to the prehistoric Moa, a giant flightless bird ,now extinct.

The Maori were  Polynesians who arrived in New Zealand about 600 years ago, just before Columbus discovered the Americas.

It’s thought they were following migration routes of whales, heading south into colder waters, not usually transversed by Polynesian navigators

The Maori had hunted to extinction the Moa only 100 years after their arrival here.

The warlike Maori brought with them and continued to share many Polynesian cultural traditions. They travelled in giant, elaborately carved war canoes, adorned their bodies with elaborate tattoos, developed fierce fighting tools, and fought each other defending themselves in fortified complexes called Pa

The word PA means a fortified strongpoint located near a Maori village or community. They were built with a view to defense but primarily to safely store food. A strong wooden palisade was fronted with woven flax leaves whose tough stringy foliage absorbed much of the force of the ammunition.

These wooden fortresses were often built on hilltops. They featured defensive terraces and were mainly built on New Zealand’s North Island. Over 5000 sites have been located. Variations similar to PA occur throughout Central Polynesia in the islands of Fiji, Tonga, and the Marquesas Islands.

In Maori culture a great PArepresented the mana, prestige, or power. But they were built primarily to protect fertile plantation sites and food.