Matariki Wananga/Workshop Whakatauaki Ta Moko Powhiri Te Pu He Wa NZSL FF
Ko Te Wairua O Te Pōwhiri
Spiritual Aspects Of Pōwhiri
Powhiri 5-6 Years FLV Video Powhiri 7-8 Years FLV Video Powhiri 9-11 Years FLV Video Powhiri 12-16 Years FLV Video

This selection of work was submitted by tamariki (children) throughout Aotearoa between 5-16 years of age for our Marae Tikanga Awareness Program. The work was prepared for print and collated for an exhibition held at the Whare Wānanga, Level 2 of Central City Library Auckland during May/June 2004 in celebration of Te Hou Māori Matariki, the Aotearoa-Pacific New Year and the launch of the 3rd edition of Matariki He Maramataka Māori

Tamariki were asked to illustrate, depict or portray in the medium of their choice (painting, drawing, photography) images that represented their own interpretation of the unseen spiritual aspects involved or invoked during Pōwhiri. Twelve of these works were then chosen for publication and received awards of recognition in conjunction with New Zealand Human Rights Commission, Te Hotu Manawa Māori, Creative New Zealand and Auckland City Council.


Marae Tikanga Marae Protocol
Although adapted somewhat to meet the needs of a changing world, for māori, the origin and rituals of pōwhiri remain held in the timeless realms of the Atua (Gods) and Tipuna (Ancestors). The Kawa, protocol laid down by the Atua and Tikanga, protocol established by the tangata whenua (in this case the people of the marae), must be strictly adhered to for both the protection and safety of mauri (life force) and mana (status and prestige).  

Marae Traditional Meeting Place Of The Māori People
The marae is the tūrangawaewae (place of belonging) and cultural nourishment for māori. The wāhi rangatira mana (place of exceptional mana), wāhi rangatira wairua (place of immense spirituality) and wāhi rangatira iwi (place that empowers dignity). Tangata whenua are the unabated foundation of a marae, while manuhiri are essential for the purpose of manaakitangi (nurturing and sustaining the divine nature of life) and vital for expansion of the tribe’s mana.

Te Marae The Marae Complex
The marae complex includes the Wharetūpuna (Ancestral House), Wharekai (Eating House) and Marae ātea (a sacred space in front of the Wharetūpuna). The Wharetūpuna usually represents an ancestor revered by the tribe, the maihi (frontal boards) are the arms, the heke (rafters) are the ribs and tahuhu (ridge pole) the spine. Carvings on marae record both Ancestry and history. Marae is the meeting place where significant gatherings are held such as tangi (funerals), hui (meetings), wānanga (learning) and hākari (feasts).

Pōwhiri Protocol Involved In Welcoming And Caring For Visitors
Pōwhiri, involves the encounter between two groups of people, tangata whenua (the hosts or people of the marae) and the manuhiri (visitors). The tangata whenua are people associated with the marae through whakapapa (genealogy) or tūrangawaewae. Tūrangawaewae affords them the right to determine tikanga (protocol), define roles and manaaki (care for) the manuhiri. Manuhiri may be made up of varying groups of people or individuals who have come to the marae to participate in a specific or ceremonial occasion.

Huihuinga Ki Waho Gathering Together
Manuhiri (visitors) wishing to enter the marae grounds gather together as a group outside the gates of the marae at a time advised by the organisors of the hui (gathering). On arrival, each group or individual greets others already waiting, whether known to them personally or not, with a hariru (handshake). A hongi (pressing of noses), a kiss and a hug, even tears are appropriate if the others are well known to them. The kaiwhakautu, the woman who will respond to the karanga (the call onto marae), and kaikōrero (orators) who will speak for the manuhiri will be selected and the koha previously placed in an envelope collected and passed to the final speaker. This is followed by a ‘settling down’ period where those present begin to focus on the tapu (sacredness) of the occassion. An inoi (prayer) requesting guidance may be offered at this time for the success of the occassion.

The order by which the group will move onto the marae is determined by local kawa (protocol). The kaiwhakautu may lead the group on, take her place to the side or walk behind the leading males of the group. Other areas may require all men to preceed women, or, speakers and male elders to enter followed by the women, children and remaining males of the group. When the tangata whenua are ready, one of them approaches the manuhiri to indicate they are ready to receive the awaiting group onto marae. It is important for the manuhiri to move forward in a silent, cohesive group and not separate.

Te Wero The Challenge
The wero is a powerful and intimidating challenge performed by a taua (warrior) who moves out from the ranks of the tangata whenua. The wero establishes the intentions of the manuhirii and whether their intentions are peaceful or hostile. The mana of the entire marae rests upon the shoulders of the taua who issues the wero. Manuhiri must stand still and wait for the taki (twig, carved dart or weapon), a representation of Tāne Mahuta, God of Forests and Birds to be placed on the ground before them. The wero may be issued to a woman of rank within the manuhiri, however a male member of the group must pick up the taki. It is a sign that the manuhiri harbour hostile intentions if the taki is picked up by its stem or handle. On some ceremonial occasions three wero will be issued in succession.

Te Karanga The Call
The Kaikaranga (female caller of the tangata whenua) begins with a haunting, melodic and high-pitched call opening the tapu of Maraenui ātea o Tūmatauenga (courtyard in front of the wharetūpuna). She beckons the manuhiri to move forward while providing safe passage for the physical and spiritual of the manuhiri to unite with the physical and spiritual of the tangata whenua.The karanga is the fist voice to be heard in the ceremony and is answered in response by the Kaiwhakautu (reply caller) representing the manuhiri. During the karanga, tangata whenua stand still as the manuhiri move slowly forward until they reach the Marae ātea.

Haka Pōwhiri Action Dance
Tangata whenua perform the haka pōwhiri. The arrival of the manuhiri is symbolic of a waka (canoe) arriving offshore. Toia mai te waka, pulling the manuhiri onto the marae, beaching the waka safely on shore. Tangata whenua gently sway their hands, this movement represents the breath of Tāwhirimatea (god of wind) rustling the foliage of the trees. Tangata whenua may hold twigs of kawakawa or foliage. The light and dark sides of the foliage symbolize te ao and te pō (life and death). The voice of the kaikaranga intertwines with the voices of the haka pōwhiri and kaiwhakautu pulling the groups together warding off evil spirits and protecting the manuhiri, providing safe passage across the marae ātea to the seats provided. Kaikōrero and kaumatua (older men) sit in the front rows with kuia (older women) and kaiwaiata (singers) behind the speakers. It is customary for the manuhiri to carry the memory of their deceased loved ones onto the marae with them. Both groups pause and bow their heads in acknowledgment and respect to those who have passed on, tangata whenua then signal for everyone to be seated.

Whaikōrero Formal Speeches
Whaikōrero and mihi (greetings), oral traditions of welcome and identification, are set down by kawa supported by Atua and Tïpuna. The prowess involved in whaikōrero emanates from the debating skills employed by the children of Ranginui (sky father) and Papatūānuku (earth mother), for the process by which to separate their parents so that light and movement may entre their lives. Whaikōrero is undertaken by kaikōrero or māngao kōrero, orator or mouthpiece who are well versed in tribal whakapapa and the spiritual, political, social and economic realities of the iwi (people) and takes place from the paepae tapu (sacred speaking bench). The hunga kāinga (people of the tangata whenua) usually open and close whaikōrero as they are responsible for the safekeeping and return of the mauri passed to them by kuia during karanga. The process of whaikōrero is determined by the kawa of the tribe. One of two processes are employed, Pāeke, tangata whenua speak followed by manuhiri until the final speaker or Tau utuutu, where tangata whenua and manuhiri alternate until the final speaker.

The format of whaikōrero includes Whakaarara, a call notifying those present that the marae ātea has been claimed and their attention is required, Tauparapara, a spiritual recitation, Whakamihi, greeting and acknowledging Io (Supreme Being), Papatūānuku, the ancestral house, the dead and the ancestors, Kaupapa o te Hui, the purpose of the gathering, Whakapapa, marae, hapu (subtribes), iwi and waka connections and Waiata, a song of support by those of his group, enhancing the mana and values of the orator and his speech. Whakatauākï (proverbs) are an important part of an orators whaikōrero, reminding us of the mauri within all things both physically and spiritually.

Te Koha The Gift
The origins of koha lie in the stories of creation and the Atua who gifted those things deemed necessary for life, to Hine-ahu-one, the first human being. At the conclusion of the final speech and waiata from the manuhiri, the last orator for the manuhiri moves across the marae ātea and places the koha on the ground by the tangata whenua (usually in a monetary form to assist with the costs of the hui). The acceptance of the koha and closing speech by the final orator of the tangata whenua, ensures the mauri remains with the tangata whenua and is not carried away by the manuhiri on their return home.

Hongi Pressing of Noses
The hongi is the first physical contact between tangata whenua and manuhiri and takes place at the conclusion of whaikōrero. The origin of hongi lies with the Atua Tāne Mahuta, who breathed air into the soul principle of Hineahu- one, the first human being, bringing her life. Hongi connects the mauri of both groups together, the sacredness of body and mind. Tangata whenua form a line and one by one receive the manuhiri as they move silently towards them in single file, nose to nose, forehead to forehead.. Hariru (handshake), or a kiss on one cheek, signs of peace, life and well-being signifying oneness are other forms of this expression adopted with the arrival Pākehā (europeans).

Te Hākari The Feast
A call made from the entrance of the wharekai (eating house) invites the manuhiri to join the tangata whenua in the hākari. The mana whenua (trusteeship of the land) and mana tangata (integrity) of the marae are measured by the strength and quality of manaakitanga (caring for others). The ritual of sharing food together lifts the condition of tapu. Hākari neutralizes the heightened spiritual and physical environment of pōwhiri, returning noa (a common state), that allows manuhiri and tangata whenua to interact freely.

Te Poroporoaki The Farewell
The poroporoaki is initiated by the manuhiri and signals the conclusion of the hui (gathering). This is an informal time for the manuhiri to show appreciation express opinions relating to the hui and give thanks. Waiata or waiataa- ringa (action songs) are performed to support the speakers. Tangata whenua follow the manuhiri with their response and conclude with the closing karakia (prayer). After the final hariru with the tangata whenua the manuhiri take their leave.

Maumahara Remember

  • Manuhiri take their lead from tangata whenua if you are in doubt ask someone
  • It is important to arrive before the Pōwhiri is scheduled to start
  • Dress appropriatly, preferably in black as pōwhiri is a ceremonial occasion
  • Turn cell phones and pagers off
  • Food and drink are not to be taken onto the marae - bottled water is usually permitted
  • Move onto the marae in silence and maintain this until the conclusion of the speeches
  • The whare tūpuna may also double as the whare moe (sleeping house)
  • Remove shoes when entering whare tūpuna/whare moe
  • The first row of seats are held for the kaikōrero and male elders
  • Fill seats in succession if there are not enough seats sit on the ground
  • Stay seated throughout the whaikōrero if you need to leave do so in an unobtrusive manner
  • Do not walk in between the kaiwhaikōrero (speakers)
  • When greeting you may hongi, shake hands or kiss
  • Wait for the karakia (prayer) to be said before eating
  • Never sit on tables or pillows
  • Smoking is only permitted in certain areas
  • Permission must be given before using cameras and tape recorders
  • If you are staying on the marae you need to bring your own toiletries and blankets, mattresses and pillows are usually provided
  • Some places in the whare moe (sleeping house) are reserved for kaumatua or distinguished guests
  • Children are welcome (depending on gathering) but must behave in a respectful manner
  • Leave all personal belongings (except valuables) in the car until the conclusion of pōwhiri
  • In some cases only Māori language is used in whaikōrero
  • English is spoken on marae
  • If you are unavoidably late seek guidance on how to go onto the marae

NB This information is intended as a general awareness and understanding of protocol and procedures of Pōwhiri on Marae. Procedure between Iwi and Rohe (regions) vary according to customs or traditions.


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