The Te Arawa Maori Group performs Psy's horse dance in Myeong-dong, Seoul, Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Kim Se-jeong
By Kim Se-jeong
New Zealand's indigenous Maori shook the streets of Myeong-dong in Seoul Tuesday with their interpretation of Psy's exuberant horse dance popularized by his video "Gangnam Style."
The performance by the Te Arawa Maori Group was part of the 49th Global Myeong-dong Festival and the Korea-New Zealand Friendship Year celebration.
"This is a fantastic way to celebrate 2012 as the Korea-New Zealand Year of Friendship, marking its 50th year of diplomatic ties," New Zealand Ambassador Patrick Rata to Korea said on the stage Tuesday, and thanked the group for sharing his country's culture with the Korean audience.
The location for the performance couldn't have been better due to the waves of passersby. The group composed of men and women in traditional Maori costumes performed traditional dances the poi and haka and taught them to the audience as well.
The group performed in London in May at the Diamond Jubilee celebration for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as well.
The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. With the arrival of Europeans to the islands in the 17th century, however, their lives changed. The Western settlers brought with them muskets, which led to inter-tribal warfare, and diseases such as measles and influenza that caused the death of an unknown number of Maoris. The British government eventually intervened and in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. This recognized Maori ownership of land and property and gave them the rights of British subjects in exchange for governance of the islands allowing the two peoples to live in harmony as part of a new British colony. In the 2006 census, nearly 620,000 Maoris were living in New Zealand, accounting for nearly 15 percent of the population.
The traditional Maori display is the kapa haka, renowned across the world.