Maori humor

Humor is an important element of the Maori culture, and their stories are filled with it. An example of this in the story of Kahungunu. Who desired to marry Rongomaiwahine. But Rongomaiwahine was already married to the chief Tama-Takutai, so he started a fight between the couple by farting. The husband and wife blamed each other for the awful smell. Polynesians often pass anecdotes in their public speeches as well. Many of their traditional songs have a humorous side to them as well. In some cases, singers accompanied speakers to supply the humor part. Ditties were specifically composed for the purpose to recite at Maori proceedings. A surgeon by the name of John Savage narrated that at one occasion, the people laughed so much at the song’s lyrics, that the performance had to be postponed.

Playing tricks

The Ngāti Porou tribe is notoriously famous for playing tricks on non-Hawaiian people who do not understand their language. On one occasion, an elderly man asked for credit at a store for a huge order on grass seed. The shopkeeper got excited and quickly drew up the bill. The old man told that his name was Kawehe-ite-rekareka and his address Haere oti atu. Later, when the shopkeeper tried to send the bill and it failed, he found out that Kawehe-ite-rekareka means happy parting and Haere oti atu means gone forever.

Facial and body expressions

The Maori and Pakeha tribe even compete against each other by expressing their feelings in a humorous and ridiculing way. The style of humor is very different in both races. Maoris like to act out the stories with facial and body expressions, and the more engaging one’s body language is, the better he or she is at being funny. In the 1960s, the Maori humor began to be published in English to work outside the borders of racial stereotypes. The main purpose was to humorize the contrast between traditional values and modern culture, so it could connect with the younger generation.

Maori humor - Billy T. James New Zealand entertainer

Billy T. James | New Zealand entertainer

Polynesian comedians

Some famous Polynesian comedians that emerged in the 20th century were Pio Terei and Mike King. The most popular comedian of all time was Billy James whom everyone remembers as a happy go lucky Maori with a high pitched laugh. Hawaiian comic shows grew in popularity and in early 2000s, a show hosted by Kingi Biddle televised a comical chat show in Maori language.

Humor has many forms in the Hawaiian culture and one of them is the visual arts. You can hardly miss the funny side of the art pieces created by the famous artist Michael Parekowhai. He is recognized for his witty and quirky culturally dissident artwork. His sarcastic approach is meant to make people think about the bigger picture, and give them a new perspective. Some of his famous works are the white elephant and the 10 guitars which have relevance to the Maori musical instruments.