Thursday, September 14, 2006

Our stay at Otakou Marae - September 18th

I am also new to New Zealand, and extremely ignorant of Maori culture, let alone local Ngai Tahu culture! But I am trying, I hope you will try with me...

Being appreciative of the many forms of colonialism, sensitive to the dynamics of cultural imperialism, and respectful as transient tourists can be, we are staying at the Otakou Marae on Monday the 18th of September.

A Marae is a significant aspect in Maori culture, and it is at the Otakou Marae on the Peninsula out from Dunedin where we will be welcomed as a group.

We will take part in a Mihiwhakatau, which literally means to greet those who have landed. It is a less formalised ritual of encounter than the powhiri.

Justine Camp here at the Otago Polytechnic has prepared the following text explaining the process, as well as an audio recording of a song we will be expected to sing as part of the Mihiwhakatau.

Outline of what a Mihiwhakatau is and why we have them.


The Mihiwhakatau enables the mana whenua (the local people) to afford the welcome that is necessary for visitors off and on Marae. The idea is to remove the tapu (restrictions) from the visitor so that they can mingle amongst us freely, hence the term waewaetapu (restricted feet).

The visitors will be invited into the Wharenui (the meeting house) where we as mana whenua will be waiting; they will be gestured to sit. Doug will then provide the kĊrero (speech) of welcome which will be followed by a waiata kinaki (song of support).

Then a representative of the visitors group will have the opportunity to respond using the song E Tu Kahikatea.

"E Tu kahikatea
whakapai ururoa
A whi mai awhi atu
Tatou tatou e

E Tu kahikatea
whakapai ururoa
A whi mai awhi atu
Tatou tatou e
Tatou tatou e
Tatou tatou e"

Stand tall, like the white pines (roots systems need to interconnect)
You give to me and I give to you
And between what we have
We will be strong together
(non literal translation)

After they have done this reply they will be invited for the hongi and hariru which is where we press noses - it symbolises sharing of breath and shaking of the hands.

We then share a cup of tea and a bite to eat as this is the final stage in removing tapu.

Mihihaere - Farewell

This is where we farewell our guests, this time the guests get to reflect on their stay and thank those who have hosted them. Then we as mana whenua have the last say and wish him well in their journey. Again after the korero we have a waiata kinaki, there may also be a karakia or inoi (prayer) which we usually do before traveling to ensure a safe journey.

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