Marae protocol

The Marae Aatea - The Place of Welcome

If you are a manuhiri or first time visitor to the AUT Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae, you should expect to be welcomed as an honoured guest. The protocol of welcome or powhiri, which takes place on all such marae, is a simple one.

The powhiri recognises the coming together of two groups that are separated not only physically but also spiritually. It is a profound acknowledgement that we are all creatures of a spiritual realm. The marae atea is a tapu, or sacred, space and is often referred to as Te Turanga-o-Tu-te-ihiihi (the standing place of Tu Matauenga, the God of War). Alternatively it is also known as Te Turanga-o-Tane-i-te-wananga (the standing place of Tane Mahuta, God of Man).

Manuhiri (visitors) should congregate at the waharoa (gateway) of the marae and wait for the karanga or call of welcome from the kaikaranga. You enter the marae aatea as waewae tapu (sacred feet) and will hear the call of the karanga.

It is usual for the karanga to be answered by a woman - a kaikaranga (Māori female caller). If the group is from Ngapuhi you will often have the response being made by a senior male. The karanga is the first act by which manuhiri and tangata whenua begin the act of union. It is highly spiritual and through it the living and the dead of both parties are joined. It is often the case that visitors to the AUT Nga Wai o Horotiu Marae will not have a kaikaranga so you will need to advise the Marae.

Coordinator prior to your visit and state this fact clearly on the marae booking application form.

The University marae adheres to Ngati Whatua kawa known as Paeke. The karanga (call of welcome) from tangata whenua (hosts) goes out to manuhiri (visitors). The kaikaranga will reply to the call of welcome and lead the group slowly towards the wharenui for whakamaumahara (remembrance). Before reaching the wharenui, manuhiri will pause and stand with their heads bowed in remembrance to the hunga mate (ancestors whom have passed away). Tears are often shed by both manuhiri and tangata whenua.

Before you enter Te Purengi (wharenui) you will need to remove your shoes. While generally seen as a courtesy, the principle of removing ones shoes is also a symbolic one. It represents the leaving of the dust of Tu Matauenga (God of War) outside so that it does not soil the house of Rongo (God of Peace). You will be directed to the right of the entrance with your speakers taking the front seats. You should remain standing until the karakia (prayer) is completed and then sit down.

The mihimihi or whaikorero (speeches) take place in the wharenui. The whaikorero (formal speech) is usually opened by tangata whenua (hosts) with a tauparapara (chant), and is followed by a mihimihi (traditional greeting) acknowledging, amongst other things, the land, wharenui, the dead, those present and the purpose of the gathering. A whaikorero (speech) is given by manuhiri (visitor). Each speech is followed by a waiata. The waiata is an act of profound support for the speech and the orator. Usually led by the women, the waiata cements the relationship between the roles of men and women on the marae. The greater the oratory and the greater the sweetness of the waiata, the greater is the mana of the group enhanced.

The last kaikorero for the manuhiri will lay the koha (gift) on the marae indicating to tangata whenua that the manuhiri speakers have finished. A karanga from the tangata whenua will be acknowledged and the koha picked up by the tangata whenua. The manuhiri will be invited to physically greet the tangata whenua through hariru and hongi (pressing of noses and shaking hands), the physical greetings where the manuhiri file past the tangata whenua, hongi and shake hands. The hariru and hongi remove the tapu that existed between the two groups and the two groups are now noa (free from tapu).

The final act of the powhiri is the sharing of food. Because the AUT marae has limited staff we ask that manuhiri bring kai (food) with them and set this up prior to the powhiri. In itself, the partaking of kai (food) assures that all are noa (free from tapu). The process of powhiri lifts the tapu of the manuhiri and consequently they become tangata whenua for the period of their stay.

Nau mai, haere mai.

For more information please contact
Michelle Robin
Marae Coordinator
Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 8819

To book the marae and for the rules and obligations of those who hire it, see the pdf icon AUT marae application form

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