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Pōwhiri on a marae

Duration: 9:43
Download the video clip for FLV player (48.13 MB)

There is commentary in this clip about how tikanga can vary from marae to marae, and from region to region. We are walked through the process of a pōwhiri – starting from the manuhiri gathering outside the entrance way of the marae (organising their kaikōrero and waiata). We hear the important call of the kaikaranga, welcoming the visitors – who (usually) respond similarly. Notice the women at the front of the entourage, with the men at the back and sides. There is discussion too about the different types of whaikōrero, the purpose of waiata, the koha, and the hongi (sharing the life breath).

Transcript

The process on marae may vary. Each marae, each hapū with a wharenui and a marae ātea, they’re autonomous, and the people who belong to there they decide what the rules are going to be and how they are going to carry them out. So on this marae we sit on this side of the wharenui. You go to Ngāti Toa, they sit on the other side, but they are still relatives of the people here. But they are a different hapū down there.

Waiariki Te Kerehi Grace – Kaumātua Hongoeka Marae

Maori vocabulary

English translation

Wharenui Meeting house

Prior to the manuhiri coming onto the marae, in terms of preparing the manuhiri, one of the things that we did and they did themselves is bring people together, because even though you have a visiting group you often have people coming from different localities. So it’s important that the visiting group themselves come together, just to check that there was a designated speaker and also given that speakers, or oratory, is also supported by waiata, then also just making sure that we were prepared in that respect. When the group moves onto the marae the female members of the group are generally in the front, and the male members of the group are at the back or around the sides, and/or around the sides. So once we were prepared then we were able to move into a place where it was visible, where we were visible to the tangatawhenua, so that they could see that we had collected ourselves, and we were gathered there and we were ready to be called onto the marae.

Brian Morris – Te Reo Māori expert

Maori vocabulary

English translation

Manuhiri Vistor(s)

The tangata whenua or local people will always determine the start of the pōhiri ceremony. Their kaikaranga or female orator will issue the first call, signalling to the manuhiri, or visitors, that they may now advance onto their marae. The manuhiri kaikaranga will respond and the conversation will take place where both will establish their relationships, acknowledging and paying tribute to those who have passed away from both groups, and then the purpose of the gathering.

Te Ripowai Higgins-Taurima, Te Herenga Waka Marae Services Manager

In the old days you had to be beyond childbearing age to do the maioha or the welcoming call. You didn't put up woman who can still bear children in case someone from the visiting party gives you a wero, in other words they make you barren. But things have changed.

Waiariki Te Kerehi Grace – Kaumātua Hongoeka Marae

Generally, coming onto a marae, we move up into the point where we pause. The purpose for pausing is to pay respect for those people who provided the land, but also for those people in general that have passed on from the marae. Then we move forward again towards the wharenui in respect of that ancestor, who was the ancestor for all those tangata whenua.

Brian Morris – Te Reo Māori expert

Maori vocabulary

English translation

Tangata whenua People of the marae

The local kaikaranga will complete this process by inviting the visitors to be seated.

Te Ripowai Higgins-Taurima, Te Herenga Waka Marae Services Manager

Then the whaikōrero, welcoming speeches, begin.

Waiariki Te Kerehi Grace – Kaumātua Hongoeka Marae

Pōwhiri will generally take place in the open space in front of the wharenui, which is termed the marae ātea, or te marae o Tūmatauenga, the battle ground of words.

Brian Morris – Te Reo Māori expert

Maori vocabulary

English translation

Marae ātea Area in front of wharenui

So if you've got a grievance if you come on, this is the place to express it, on the marae. On the marae ātea.

Waiariki Te Kerehi Grace – Kaumātua Hongoeka Marae

Part of the reason being, is that you’re exposed to the natural elements, the sun, the wind, the rain. And so if there is a point where people may say things that the other group may find that they don't necessarily agree with it allows those things to be aired, they have been aired. The wind can come along and blow them away, the rain can come along and wash it away, or people can move around and just trample it into the ground.

Brian Morris – Te Reo Māori expert

And when you go into the wharenui you are inside the ancestor, and there’s no safer place to be than inside the body of your ancestor.

Waiariki Te Kerehi Grace – Kaumātua Hongoeka Marae

It does vary for other reasons, and you know different tribal regions do things in different ways.

Brian Morris – Te Reo Māori expert

On this marae the process is called tū atu tū mai, in other words the tangatawhenua speak first, then the manuhiri reply, and you may have more than one speaker on either side. But the tangatawhenua will always close the speeches. The other process, that’s called tū atu, tū mai, the other process is called pāeke, where all the tangatawhenua will speak first, followed by all the manuhiri.

Waiariki Te Kerehi Grace – Kaumātua Hongoeka Marae

Maori vocabulary

English translation

Tū atu tū mai Tauutuutu

Once the first speaker had spoken and the tangatawhenua had sung their waiata, then they then passed things over to us the visitors. I was our first speaker, and then we had our waiata and then we had our second speaker and then we had our waiata. The main reason for that is the waiata have a way of supporting those things that have been said. It may also emphasise certain things through the waiata that has been chosen, but it also keeps reminding us that we are always linked to those who have passed on. The things that have been said, or the words that have been spoken, there’s a state of tapu that exists. So speakers when they speak they are also under that state of tapu, so waiata also have a way of lifting that tapu off a speaker as well. So you know the waiata from a traditional point of view have a key purpose. And then a koha was laid down.

Brian Morris – Te Reo Māori expert

Well the koha that’s a contribution to the success I guess of the hui. It’s not compulsory but it’s expected. I mean it’s part of the tradition.

Waiariki Te Kerehi Grace – Kaumātua Hongoeka Marae

Following the koha, and the koha being offered and received, then the final speaker from the tangatawhenua then spoke. And partly to round up or summarise things that had been said by speakers, but also to reiterate the purpose for the pōhiri, the reason why this group of teachers was coming to the marae.

Brian Morris – Te Reo Māori expert

Hongi is our way of greeting people. And there is no more intimate way to greet a person than to share the same life breath. And it’s why you hongi with your nose, not with your forehead as some people do. It’s not a head butt.

Waiariki Te Kerehi Grace – Kaumātua Hongoeka Marae

The marae is a good place to learn those things, to be part of, and also to get an appreciation of the different, I suppose, tikanga, the different concepts, cultural concepts, traditions that operate for Māori.

Brian Morris – Te Reo Māori expert

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