Story: Māori smoking, alcohol and drugs – tūpeka, waipiro me te tarukino

Reggae and Rastafarianism

To a greater extent than any other drug, marijuana was part of a subculture with its own religious beliefs, music and way of life. Māori were prominent among adherents of the Rastafarian religion, within which marijuana was used as a spiritual aid and believed to open the mind to truth. Reggae music was introduced to New Zealand in the 1970s, most notably by Jamaican singer Bob Marley, who was Rastafarian, and his band the Wailers. Local reggae bands, many of whose members were Māori and Polynesian, flourished. One of the best-known was Herbs (one of the slang names for marijuana), shown here in the 1987 video for the hit song 'Sensitive to a smile'. The clip was shot at Mangahānea marae near Ruatōria on the East Coast, an area where Rastafarianism was prominent at the time.

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How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Māori smoking, alcohol and drugs – tūpeka, waipiro me te tarukino - Māori use of drugs', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/video/39874/reggae-and-rastafarianism (accessed 1 December 2021)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 Sep 2013