Indigenous Taiwanese and Māori in Aotearoa NZ – You might be happily surprised at the relationship

What is the relationship of Māori in Aotearoa NZ to indigenous Taiwanese?
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Genetic link between indigenous Taiwanese and Maori

Did you know that there is a genetic link connecting the indigenous peoples of Taiwan with Māori in Aotearoa NZ?

This is something I’ve found very interesting. But there’s much more… 

Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve learned recently:

Genetic research

Genetic research over the last 15 years backs the idea of a link between indigenous Taiwanese and Māori and modern-day Pacific peoples.

There’s more here if you’re interested and in the Origins section of the Wikipedia entry for Māori.

An ancestral land for Māori

This makes Taiwan an ancestral land for many New Zealanders. Sir Pita Sharples, when he met indigenous Taiwanese said:

  • “There is no doubt you are my cousins…you look like my brothers and sisters.”

Linguistic Links

There are links in the languages. For example, counting from 1 to 10 is almost the same in Te Reo and Amis, one of the indigenous languages and tribal groups.

Health issues

Because of the common ancestry, solving the health problems of one group can benefit the others.

These affect us all, but in particular, this relates to dealing with high blood pressure and diabetes.

Taiwanese Iwi

Taiwan has 16 different officially recognised tribes, each with their own distinct language and culture who occupied the island 15,000 years before the Han Chinese arrived.

In addition, there are many more tribal groups that are not recognised yet according to my Taiwanese friends.

The beginning of a cultural resurgence

Indigenous Taiwanese languages and culture have been (and still are) in danger. But the good news is that they seem to be at the beginning of a cultural resurgence and renaissance.

For me, this seems similar to what happened in the 1970s in Aotearoa NZ. It’s early days, but Taiwan is learning from Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Which government groups are involved?

There are many groups working hard to promote and strengthen ties and form new relationships between Aotearoa NZ and Taiwan, especially with indigenous groups.

On the Taiwan side, one key group is the Council for Indigenous Peoples (CIP) and on the NZ side, the newly formed Indigenous Taiwan Aotearoa New Zealand (ITANZ) Business Council.


Could you use concepts from Te Ao Māori to create learner success with indigenous Taiwanese learners?

I think you could. Find out more about these concepts in my new eBook on learner-centred teaching.

Click I Want This below for more.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

6 thoughts

  1. Love it! – I had heard about the genetic and language links, but your post has highlighted many benefits of the two cultures collaborating on shared issues and interests (health, language and culture regeneration).

  2. Kia ora Graeme you are very lucky to have been given the opportunity to go there and experience that cross-cultural exchange. As Ngati Porou myself, off my own steam and with well-worn backpack I went all around Taiwan as well, English teaching but I never got the chance to meet any Indigenous people there. So they look similar and have a similar culture and shared genetic history. This is endlessly fascinating!

    1. Thanks Catnip. Yes, very fortunate. The whanaungatanga from these distant cousins is tangible. I hope you are able to meet some of these whanau one day. Thanks for commenting.

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