Powhiri

A Maori welcome on to a marae is a powhiri (or pohiri). Marae are not the only places where powhiri take place - powhiri can happen anywhere that hosts (tangata whenua) wish to formally greet a group of visitors (manuhiri).

Maori is the language used during powhiri. While powhiri may vary according to the occasion and the tribal area, Maori language still guides powhiri. Basic powhiri include the following steps:

  1. Karanga is a unique form of female oratory in which women bring a range of imagery and cultural expression to the first calls of welcome (and response) in the powhiri.
  2. Whaikorero or formal speech making follows the karanga. Some of the best Maori language orations are given during powhiri when skilled speakers craft the language into a series of verbal images. The protocols for whaikorero during powhiri are determined by the kawa (practices) of the marae or local iwi if the powhiri is not held on a marae.
  3. A waiata or song is sung after each whaikorero by the group the orator represents. It is common to hear traditional waiata during powhiri.
  4. Koha – a gift, generally an envelope of money, is laid on the ground by the last speaker for the manuhiri (visitors). A local kuia (female elder) may karanga as an expression of thanks. A male from the tangata whenua will pick up the koha.
  5. Hongi – the pressing of noses signifies the joining together of tangata whenua and manuhiri. Tangata whenua invite the manuhiri to come forward to shake hands (hariru) and hongi.
  6. Hakari – the feast, a meal is then shared. This usually signifies the end of the powhiri.