New Zealand Tourism & Hospitality Research Conference, 2010
24-26 November, 2010
AUT University, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand

Marae and Powhiri Protocol

Haere mai! Haere mai! Haere mai!
Once! Twice! Thrice! Welcome.

Delegates of the NZTHRC, 2010 will have the unique opportunity to participate in a powhiri, a ceremony of welcome, extended to visitors by Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. The powhiri will be held at the Nga Wai O Horotiu Marae on AUT's city campus.

Arrival at Marae

If you are a manuhiri (a visitor) for the first time to the AUT Nga Wai o Horotiu Marae, you should expect to be welcomed as an honoured guest. The protocol of a powhiri, which takes place on all such marae, is a simple one. The powhiri recognises the coming together of two groups that are separated not only physically but also spiritually. It is a profound acknowledgement that we are all creatures of a spiritual realm. The marae atea is a tapu or sacred place and is often referred to as Te Turanga-o-Tu-te-ihiihi (the standing place of Tu Matauenga, the God of War). It is also known as Te Turanga-o-Tane-i-te-wananga (the standing place of Tane Mahuta, God of Man).
Visitors will gather at a specified time at the gate of the Marae.


A woman from the tangata whenua, or Maori host, will begin the karanga (call). This will signal the manuhiri to move forward. The powhiri is a very formal and sacred ceremony, so it is expected that the manuhiri will not chatter, drink, smoke or eat lollies/sweets, etc., throughout this process. The karanga will be answered by a woman from the manuhiri.


The tangata-whenua will begin the whaikorero (welcome speeches), which usually open with a sacred tauparapara (traditional chant) or a whakatauki (traditional Maori proverb). This is followed by traditional greetings, acknowledging most of the following:

  • the land in front of the wharenui
  • the dead
  • the reason for the gathering
  • the wharenui
  • the people present


Each speech is followed by a waiata (song). The waiata is an act of profound support for the speech and the orator - usually led by the women it cements the relationship between the roles of men and women on the marae. The greater the oratory and the greater the sweetness of the waiata, the greater is the mana of the group enhanced.


The koha (gift) is an expression of appreciation and respect for the hospitality of the tangata whenua. After the last manuhiri speaker has presented the koha, a karanga of gratitude is performed and a tangata whenua representative will pick the koha up and also respond with a gesture of gratitude.


After the whaikorero, the tangata whenua will invite the manuhiri to go forward in a line, preferably following the speakers, to hongi (press noses) and shake hands. It is through this ritual that peace, purpose and hope are expressed. The hongi is also a sign of life symbolising the action of Tane's (man's) breath of life to humans. By this action the life force is permanently established and the spiritual and physical bodies become a living entity.


Following the hongi, the tangata whenua will invite the manuhiri to break bread (to have tea) and this will complete the formal welcome ceremony and removal of tapu from the manuhiri. The visitors become tangata whenua.

If you are an international visitor, we hope that this will be one of many cultural experiences that you will discover and enjoy during your visit to Aotearoa New Zealand.