Special Issue "Māori Religiosity and its Cultures in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Whakapono/Wairua Māori ki tōna ahurea"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Ann Hardy

The Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Waikato, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Media and religion; New Zealand film and television; communication theory; scriptwriting
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Tom Roa

Māori and Indigenous Studies, University of Waikato, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Translation in Māori/English contexts; Waikato-Maniapoto oral and written history and traditions; Māori Men's Health and Wellbeing; Māori Protocols/Systems in nomenclature; Māori Protocols/Systems in the digitisation of Māori material

Special Issue Information

The issue is designed to look at the contemporary landscape of Māori religiosity in Aotearoa New Zealand, in the three forms of institutional mainstream religious denominations; Māori-instigated ‘new religious movements’, which blend Christianity with pre-Christian beliefs and practices; and an eclectic range of secular-spiritual phenomena and practices that are influenced by Māori epistemology and values. There is a timeliness to this project related to the fact that the Ringatū and Ratana religious movements are celebrating 150 years and 100 years of existence respectively. The articles will be predominantly authored by Māori scholars and religious experts, thereby providing a specificity of knowledge that has not been available to the many anthropologists and ethnographers who have written about Māori religiosity from outsider perspectives over the last century (cf. Best, 1924; Leske, 2007; Smith, 1910, Turner, 1971).

Dear Colleagues,

  • The focus of this special issue will be an examination of the state of Māori religiosity today (‘religiosity’ is chosen because it includes both institutional forms of religion, spiritual groupings and secular phenomena which are nevertheless influenced by Māori epistemologies and axiologies). History and histories will inevitably be referenced since they are essential to the construction and maintenance of particular manifestations of religiosity, but the main emphasis will be on the locations and state faith and spirituality are today, in response to contemporary forces such as globalization and multiculturalism, in addition to Māori desires to maintain and reinforce what is distinctive about Polynesian and tribal worldviews.

    The scope of the issue will be broad. In recognition of the mana of individual traditions work from scholars representing both Māori influence in the main Christian denominations, and the major syncretic Maori-created religions, will be represented. In addition there will be two articles on the modern ‘Matariki’ phenomenon where the revival of a pre-colonial midwinter celebration around the rising of a constellation is examined: i) as a secular-spiritual event disseminating indigenous religious concepts throughout the mainstream population of Aotearoa New Zealand and ii) as vehicle for the re-institution of pre-Christian religious practices among sections of the Māori population. There may also be a demographic article taken from the Māori data collected over the last decade in the New Zealand Survey of Attitudes and Values. The tension between local, national and international religious identities will be a theme throughout the articles.

    The purpose of the special issue is to provide a rare opportunity to place discussion of different forms of Māori religiosity in relationship to each other, as understood by authorities in those forms. The perceived audiences for the issue are: international audiences who would appreciate up-to-date and reliable information on indigenous engagements with religion and spirituality in Aotearoa New Zealand, and local audiences and scholars within Aotearoa who would appreciate such a collection as a resource for further research and scholarship.

    • Relationship to existing literature.

    Since religious and spiritual concepts and practices, such as respecting the mauri or life force of natural phenomena and the tapu, or noa, aspects of life, are still a pervasive aspect of Māori lifeworlds, even for people who would not consider themselves religious, most publications by or about Māori issues are likely to contain reference to such issues. For instance, two recent major publications on Māori histories of Aotearoa New Zealand Tangata Whenua: an Illustrated History (Anderson et al. 2015) and Te Kōparapara: an introduction to the Māori world (Reilly et al. eds, 2018) contain cosmological accounts of the origins of Māori and the descent of tribal groupings from particular deities. The Tears of Rangi (Salmond, 2017) describes the encounter of Māori and European ontologies in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and how those different perceptions continue to influence the present day. There have been books on the syncretic movements such as Judith Binney’s three books on the Ringatū religion (1979, 1995, 2009) and several biographies of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, the founder of the Ratana religion, the latest by Newman (2009). However, collections of work on Māori religiosity by Māori authors are rare. There was a book Mana Māori and Christianity (Morrison et al. eds. 2013) which contained some chapters by Māori authors. However, as the title suggests, the content is restricted to interactions between Christianity and Māori and so lacks the scope of our proposal. The value of the wider scope is indicated by the fact that a volume Matariki: the Star of the Year by Rangi Matamua, who would be contributing to this special issue, has sold more than 6000 copies since its release in 2017.

Dr. Ann Hardy
Prof. Dr. Tom Roa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 550 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Māori religion
  • indigenous religion
  • secular spirituality in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Māori Christianity
  • Ringatū
  • Ratana
  • Pai Marire
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Māori
  • Māori resistance to Christianity
  • contemporary Matariki celebrations

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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