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Shared roles and responsibilities

In this clip, we hear about the importance of the ‘ringawera’ (the workers behind-the-scenes preparing the kai). The saying “Ka pai ā muri, ka pai ā mua” is used to highlight the value of such people – and to illustrate the complementary relationship between those at the back (albeit often unseen) and those who are visible at the front.


The term ringawera refers to the people who prepare the food. And they’re given that term because you know they generally have their hands in hot water, or in terms of being around the heat of fires and things like that. So the ringawera are the people who often you don't see, but in terms of the marae and its function are, you know, we would argue, they are the most important people. The people you see on the marae, taking part in the pōwhiri, are generally just part of the groups that work together so that the ringawera, they are doing the work that is going to display or convey the marae’s own capability of looking after its visitors. But there are different sayings, you know ka pai ā muri, ka pai ā mua. You know if everything in the back is going and operating well, then things at the front will operate well. Ka tika ā muri ka tika ā mua. So you know those are the things to show that they operate together in a partnership, but are all part of the same thing which is the collective in the marae. The operation of a marae, the way that that runs, is determined by the people who belong to that marae. All marae will run in a different way. There will be some common things, but generally how things are done on one marae will differ from how they are done on another marae. The thing that schools should look at doing is developing a relationship or establishing a relationship with a local marae. If they have marae to whom pupils or students in their school belong, then it makes sense to establish relationships with that marae or those marae.

Brian Morris – Te Reo Māori and tikanga expert


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