The Marae Ātea - The Place of Welcome
If you are a manuhiri or first time visitor to the Ngāti Whātua Orākei – Orākei Marae, you should expect to be welcomed as an honoured guest. The protocol of welcome or Pōwhiri, which takes place on all such marae, is a simple one.
The pōwhiri 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 ātea is a tapu, or sacred, space and is often referred to as Te Tūranga-ō-tū-te-ihiihi (the standing place of Tūmatauenga, the God of War). Alternatively it is also known as Te Tūranga-ō-Tāne-i-te-wānanga (the standing place of Tāne Māhuta, God of Man).
Manuhiri (visitors) should congregate at the Waharoa (gateway) of the marae, in formation of women in the front, men at the back behind the women and wait for the Karanga or call of welcome from the host Kaikaranga. You enter the marae ātea 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 Ngāpuhi 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.
The Orākei marae adheres to Ngāti Whātua kawa known as Pāeke. 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 Tumutumu Whenua (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 Tūmatauenga (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 male speakers taking the front seats, women and the rest of the group take the seats behind your speakers. 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.
Koha is an example of the reciprocity which is a common feature of much Māori tradition. The koha reflects the mana of both the giver and the recipient.
The last kaikōrero 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 harirū and hongi (pressing of noses and shaking hands), the physical greetings where the manuhiri file past the tangata whenua, hongi and shake hands. The harirū and hongi remove the tapu that existed between the two groups and the two groups are now noa (free from tapu).
The process of Pōwhiri lifts the tapu of the manuhiri and consequently they become tangata whenua for the period of their stay.
Points to note:
1. Dress Code: It is important to dress appropriately when attending a Pōwhiri. It is a formal occassion and dark colours are preferred
2. Waiata: Words for the waiata will be provided
3. Koha: You can add on a koha during online registration and this will be contributed on your behalf.