Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review

Volume 12, Issue 1, 2021

Jean E. Rosenfeld
Pages 17-38

Prophets, Land, and Law: Maori Holy Spirit Movements and the Domesday Book

The experience of colonialization and Christianization among the Maori of Aotearoa (New Zealand), the Polynesians’ furthest settlement in the Southern Hemisphere, resulted in significant population decline of the Maori, land alienation, the rise of nativist revitalization movements, and British laws regarding land tenure that conformed to a Domesday Book tradition of conquest and social stratification. Nativist religious movements attempted to regain the land, reverse Maori population decline, and avoid the pathological consequences of aporia, a Greek word that signifies “without a bridge.” Three successive “Holy Spirit” movements arose to heal the breach between the old world of the Polynesians and the new world of British colonization and Christianization. Adherents assumed an identity as Israelites—the children of Shem—and challenged the Christian dominance of the Pakeha (European New Zealanders). From this culture clash came the Land Wars of the nineteenth century and the emergence of a new, biracial nation.