Te Marae: A Guide to Customs and Protocol 

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Who and what?

This short book by Hiwi and Pat Tauroa is an excellent introduction and summary of what happens on the marae including the various stages that visitors are led through during the powhiri process. It also covers different kinds of marae and other aspects of Maori community life that often connect with the marae including the church (te whare karakia), the cemetery (te urupa), funerals (tangi), and weddings (marena).

Why should I read it?

I bought this because someone recommended it to me. I had asked for some follow up material after watching the TEC's "Know the learner" DVD with the focus on Maori learning and teaching. The DVD covers the powhiri as a kind of model for educational processes and I wanted to do a bit more reading around this. If you are interested in learning more about any of these aspects of Maori culture then this book is an excellent introduction. The focus is more general than the DVD of course.

 What's the basic idea?

There is an introduction by Sir James Henare and then the basic flow of the book is a walk through of the various stages of the powhiri process. It's not a dry academic treatment though. The writers draw on their own life experiences, Marae (Te Patunga) and stories to set the scene and provide a context for the book. Some of the complexities of Marae visits are covered, but by and large the material is easy to understand and pakeha-friendly. Some waiata are included and translated and these were interesting and heartwarming to read.

Can you give me a little bit more information?

Obviously, there is no "one size fits all" approach and each marae and iwi is likely to have their own particular practices. However, this book is probably a good place to start if - like me - you are an interested, but mostly uninformed citizen...

Also, there is some nice detail around some of the specifics like saying grace before eating and the authors include some simple karakia. Such as this one:

E te Karaiti,                                       O Lord,

Whakapaingia enei kai                  Bless this food  

Hei oranga mo o matou tinana    For the sustenance of our bodies,

Whangaia o matou wairua            Feed our souls

Ki te taro o te ora                             With Thy spiritual food

Nau hoki nga mea katoa                For all things are from You

Amine.                                                Amen

Te Marae: A Guide to Customs and Protocol

You can buy this book... Click the image to purchase