Maori - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Maori youth enjoyed premarital sexual freedom and were expected to have a series of discreet love affairs Before marrying. The choice of a marriage partner was made by the senior members of the whanau (household). Marriage served to establish new relations with other kin groups and brought new members into the hapu. Aristocrats often betrothed their children as infants. Marriages were nearly always between members of the same tribe and often between Members of the same hapu. First and second cousins were ineligible as marriage partners. Most marriages were monogamous, though chiefs often took several wives. Gifts were exchanged by both partners at the weddings of commoners while aristocratic women brought a dowry often in the form of land and slaves. Divorce was common and easy, based simply on an agreement of husband and wife to separate. Residence was flexible, but often patrilocal. Children were greatly desired and commonly adopted from relatives. Abortion, infanticide, and postpartum sexual abstinence were the primary methods of population control.

Domestic Unit. The basic social unit was the household (whanau), often comprised of an extended family, including a male head ( kaumatua), his spouse (s), their unmarried children, and their married sons, along with the latter's spouses and children. Many households also had resident slaves.

Inheritance. A dying person would make a final testament disposing of his or her property. Most of the estate was Divided fairly equally among the surviving children, except that certain types of hunting, fishing, and craft equipment went only to the offspring of the same sex.

Socialization. Children were generally educated by their relatives, especially grandparents, through songs and stories. Games often imitated adult activities and were competitive. Aggressiveness and competitiveness were encouraged.

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