Kin Groups. The largest kin groups in Maori society were the so-called tribes ( iwi). The iwi were independent political units that occupied discrete territories. An iwi was a large, bilateral descent group encompassing as its members all descendants, traced through both male and female links, of the tribe's founder (by whose name most tribes were known). The Maori were organized into some fifty iwi, of varying size and prestige. The iwi, in turn, were made up of a number of sections known as hapu. The hapu also owned a discrete territory and consisted of all individuals bilaterally descended from a founding ancestor. The hapu were much more important than the iwi with regard to land use and communal projects among their members. Most of the members of a hapu lived, along with in-marrying spouses and slaves, in one or two Communities. Since they were defined bilaterally, an individual was often a member of and could affiliate with more then one hapu. A household became officially affiliated with a particular hapu by demonstrating a genealogical link conferring membership and by participating fully in the group's daily life. Descent was reckoned bilaterally, with a patrilateral emphasis, especially in chiefly families.
Kinship Terminology. Maori kin terminology was of the Hawaiian type.