Maoris, the earliest known inhabitants of New Zealand. They are a Polynesian people who have been almost fully integrated into New Zealand's white society. Traditionally the Maoris lived in small, usually fortified villages as farmers, hunters, fishermen, and gatherers of wild-plant foods. Led by their village chiefs and following set rules of combat, they waged frequent battles against each other for prestige and land. The Maoris had no metals or pottery; they were skilled wood-carvers, boat-builders, dancers, and orators.Maoris were skilled boat-builders.