Tuesday, 12 September 2017


If NZ's prime-minister walked into room 7 I would shake his hand and say hi. If anyone entered our room I would give them the same greeting. Most cultures in the world are not like that. Most cultures in the world have different vocabulary and processes for greeting people of different standing, age, or gender. Today we looked at the Maori powhiri. The ceremony used by Maori to welcome someone or a group of people.

Traditionally when a group approached a marae the visit would have been unexpected and the tangata whenua (hosts) would not know if the manuhiri (visitors) were going to attack them or whether they friendly. The powhiri was used to establish if the manuhiri were friend or foe. Once this was found out then the tangata whenua would formally welcome them, establish their connections with each other, and eventually breathe the same air (hongi - pressing of noses).

The powhiri was and is a powerful way of making people feel welcome. 'Whanaungatanga' (A sense of belonging) and 'Manaakitanga' (the ability to show love and make people feel welcome) are guiding values in the powhiri.

Here is a video of a powhiri. It is in English so we get a sense of what is said during a powhiri.

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