Marae

This page provides a brief overview of marae in our region.

In Māori society, the marae is a place where the culture can be celebrated, where the Māori language can be spoken, where inter-tribal obligations can be met, where customs can be explored and debated, where family occasions such as birthdays can be held, and where important ceremonies, such as welcoming visitors or farewelling the dead (tangihanga), can be performed. Like the related institutions of old Polynesia, the marae is a wāhi tapu, a 'sacred place' which carries great cultural meaning.

In Māori usage, the marae ātea (often shortened to marae) is the open space in front of the wharenui (meeting house; literally "large building"). Generally the term marae is used to refer to the whole complex, including the buildings and the ātea. This area is used for pōwhiri (welcome ceremonies) featuring oratory. Some iwi (tribes) and hapū (sub-tribes) do not allow women to perform oratory on their marae, though typically women perform a Karanga (call). The wharenui is the locale for important meetings, sleepovers, and craft and other cultural activities.

The wharekai (dining hall) is used primarily for communal meals, but other activities may be carried out there.
Many of the words associated with marae in tropical Polynesia are retained in the Māori context. For example, the word paepae refers to the bench where the speakers sit; this means it retains its sacred and ceremonial associations. Marae vary in size, with some wharenui being a bit bigger than a double garage, and some being larger than a typical town hall. 

Te Āwhina Marae
Onetahua Marae - Pōhara
Whakatū Marae

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