Ōrākei Marae is the cultural hub for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and the ancestor the house represents has connections to all the major tribes throughout New Zealand.
The marae serves as a communal space to discuss conflict, celebrate culture, explore customs and hold important ceremonies. It is a sacred place which carries great cultural meaning.
Kawa of the Marae
The Kawa of the Marae means the protocols or rules which operate on the Marae. All visitors to the marae must be formally greeted by the tangata whenua (hosts). Important gods are symbolised by parts of the marae, while the outside is the domain of the god of war, Tūmatauenga; the meeting house is the domain of Rongo the god of peace and, as such, speeches inside the meeting house are expected to be less forceful than those outside.
The pōwhiri is the rutual ceremony of encounter. This process served traditionally to determine if the visiting party was friend or foe. Nowadays, after friendly intent is established; it is a formal welcome of the guests by the tangata whenua.
The pōwhiri begins with the karanga which is the women calling from both sides to establish intent and purpose for the visit. The tangata whenua then perform the haka pōwhiri; a chant and dance of welcome, during whih the guests are symbolically drawn onto the marae.
Following this is the exchange of greetings (mihi) by the orators from both sides and speeches are given drawing links between the ancestors and the living, with links made between the tangata whenua and the guests.
Following the speeches there is the performance of the waiata (song) and at the completing the guests will present a koha (donation) to the tangata whenua and the guests and hosts hongi (press noses) and harirū (shake hands) in greeting.
The powhiri concludes with the sharing of food which signifies the binding together of the tangata whenua and the guests.