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Marae: The Coronary heart of Māori Tradition

Marae: The Heart of Māori Culture

Kia ora (good day)! One of many hidden gems of New Zealand and the Māori tradition is the marae. Few vacationers have stepped foot in a marae, not to mention know what it’s or what its significance is within the Māori communities.

Discover the unknown of this sacred sanctuary of the Māori individuals, the intricate and detailed artwork and constructions and the indigenous traditions that maintain the marae collectively as a communal and ceremonial floor.

In This Article

What Is a Marae?

A marae (pronounced as ma-rye) is a communal, ceremonial and sacred floor that serves spiritual and social gatherings. These communal grounds belong to a specific iwi (tribe), hapū (sub-tribe) or whānau (household).

The various buildings a marae can home include a wharenui (a carved assembly home), wharekai (a eating corridor and cooking space), marae ātea (an open area within the entrance) and loo blocks. Some maraes even embody housing for his or her kaumātuas (elders).

Maraes are thought of sanctuaries of refuge for the Māori individuals and supply services that permit them to proceed dwelling their lifestyle throughout the total construction of their norms and values. Maraes are registered as assembly areas and as a reserve below the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 (or Māori Land Act 1993).

What Is The Significance of a Marae?

In Māori tradition, a marae is on the coronary heart of the neighborhood. They contemplate a marae as their tūrangawaewae (a spot to face and belong, a way of id). Conventional Māori oratory, language, values and social etiquette are all absolutely expressed on the marae.

A marae is a house the place ancestors are current and the Māori study in regards to the world and life throughout their youthful years. Maraes host many non secular and social gatherings comparable to āhuareka (celebrations), hui (conferences), tangi (funerals) and different necessary tribal occasions. These additionally function locations to host instructional workshops.

The marae is sacred to the dwelling and a memorial to those that have handed on. In consequence, the marae requires respect upon coming into. The marae promotes social integration by encouraging id, vanity, satisfaction and social management.

Maraes are one institution the place Pākehā (a white New Zealander versus a Māori individual) can work together with Māori on Māori phrases and acquire a deeper understanding of what it means to dwell in a bicultural tradition. A pōwhiri (formal welcome) is required to enter a marae.

A pōwhiri is a standard introduction course of that welcomes and permits visitors and hosts to get acquainted and study extra about one another. Touring to New Zealand and visiting a marae, you’ll expertise this intimate custom.

About The Physical Structure of a Marae

About The Bodily Construction of a Marae

A marae is usually rectangular and bordered by a fence product of stones or wood posts, making a boundary of the marae and having buildings for particular features. The services have intricate decorations, conventional and elaborate carvings, and sculptures.

The intricate sculptures that regularly cowl their exteriors and interiors convey tales and hint ancestors. As talked about beforehand, a marae consists of some key buildings and constructions — let’s study extra about two of the important buildings: 


The marae and the wharenui have a complementary relationship — collectively, they’re the point of interest of the neighborhood, with the wharenui because the central constructing. A tribal assembly place that represents a specific ancestor of the tribe consists of these options:

  • Tekoteko (carved determine) represents the ancestor’s head and sits on the rooftop in entrance. 
  • Maihi (entrance barge boards) represents the arms to welcome guests. 
  • Amo (upright carvings on both facet of the wharenui) represents the legs. 
  • Tāhuhu (ridge pole operating down the size of the roof) represents the backbone. 
  • Heke (rafters) that reaches from the tāhuhu to the poupou (carved figures on the partitions) represents the ribs. 


The wharekai are the eating halls or consuming areas the place the “internal man” is glad. The wharekai primarily hosts neighborhood meals, though different occasions might also happen there. The wharekai exists independently, not at all times as a bodily actuality, however in sure circumstances as an thought or perception.

Tapu (sacred high quality) dictates the place individuals can and can’t eat meals and the place they will and can’t eat drinks. Meals is noa (a typical ingredient) and the polar reverse of tapu to the Māori. The tipuna whare (assembly/ancestral residence) has tapu, and other people can’t eat in it. Nevertheless, the wharekai is tapu-free — the 2 are at totally different ends of the spectrum.

The Human Construction of a Marae

A marae consists of two outstanding human constructions — the tangata whenua (native individuals) and the manuhiri (guests or vacationers) — let’s study extra about these two human constructions: 

Tangata Whenua

The locals who’ve tūrangawaewae (situational id) to the marae by way of ancestry are often known as tangata whenua — the unique inhabitants of New Zealand. They maintain the fitting to determine on kawa (procedures) on the marae. They will additionally make authoritative choices on gatherings, outline duties and specify customer duties and obligations — the tangata whenua additionally take pleasure in offering hospitality to others on the marae.

The sequence of roles on the marae follows life itself — from a younger baby with freedom, progressing to their teen and grownup years with extra duties — starting on the rear and finally reaching the entrance of the marae as a revered elder when older:

  • Younger youngsters: Youngsters have the liberty to reign over the marae. They will play wherever they please, besides when a ceremonial welcome happens. Youngsters on the marae are thought of each revered and essential neighborhood members. Thus, all adults are dad and mom to all youngsters. Doesn’t it remind you of the proverb, “It takes a village to lift a baby”? 
  • Youngsters: Youngsters even have the liberty to reign over the marae. They carry some duty to the neighborhood, like arranging and cleansing stools and tables, serving meals, pouring drinks and different primary handbook labor that ensures guests are effectively taken care of. 
  • Adults: All adults have duties within the wharekai. They play a task in every step of the meal preparation course of, from ordering provides to serving meals. Adults keep many features of the marae, from homes to lawns and gardens. Their duties embody conserving the toilet block clear.
  • Elders: When evaluating an elder to an grownup, it’s tough to inform the distinction. It varies from marae to marae. In some areas the place there are few elders, the adults tackle the position of elders. The neighborhood respects their elders for his or her knowledge, steering and experience. 


On a marae for Māori locals, guests are the second most necessary group. Guests have to comply with the kawa of the tangata whenua to not offend or disrespect the marae and Māori. By respecting traditions, the manuhiri contributes by honoring native norms of conduct and by way of koha (assist reward given by the manuhiri to the tangata whenua).

Visit New Zealand Māori and Experience Their Marae With Windstar Cruises

Go to New Zealand Māori and Expertise Their Marae With Windstar Cruises

New Zealand’s Māori tradition is wealthy with indigenous traditions, and the marae is on the coronary heart of their neighborhood. A marae is a sanctuary for the tangata whenua. These areas permit them to proceed dwelling their lifestyle, from the intricately detailed carvings on the wharenui to the elders sharing their experience with the youthful generations. Get the expertise of a lifetime and turn into a welcomed customer in a marae.

At Windstar Cruises, now we have a personalised and immersive strategy that brings you nearer to your vacation spot. Our small and chic ships carry fewer than 310 vacationers, which affords a singular and relaxed expertise so you may escape the crowds. Make a memorable journey and request a name from certainly one of our cruise trip planners. 

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