What is a Pōwhiri?

A pōwhiri is a traditional ceremony welcoming people onto a marae.

What to expect

In this case the pōwhiri is an official welcome for all new students to the University of Auckland. It removes the tapu (sacredness) of the manuhiri (visitors) to make them one with the tangata whenua (home people). Protocols differ from marae to marae.

Pōwhiri are held at Waipapa Marae or Te Aka Matua o te Pou Hawaiki Marae (Faculty of Education and Social Work). When you arrive, you will spot the Student Ambassadors in blue coloured t-shirts. The ambassadors are there to help guide you and prepare you for the processes prior to being welcomed on to the marae.

Pōwhiri procedure

  • Groups will select a kaikaranga (an adult female) able to return the welcoming call from tangata whenua/host and one or two kaikorero (adult male speakers) to respond to the kaikorero tangata whenua/host speeches of welcome.
  • The group gathers together closely at the waharoa which is the gateway to the marae ātea (forecourt between the waharoa and the wharenui/carved house).
  • The karanga (welcoming call) from tangata whenua/host (adult female) is given. This acknowledges the arrival of manuhiri (visitors) and invites manuhiri to move slowly and respectfully onto the marae led by an adult female followed by women and children, in turn followed by the men, i.e. men should position themselves at the back of the women.
  • Visitors will stop approximately 10 metres in front of the carved house and a minute’s silence will be observed (bowing our heads) to remember our loved ones - both tangata whenua and manuhiri - that have passed on.The karanga also acknowledges the kaupapa (reason) for their visit, who the visitors are, and, if known, where they are from. 
  • Finally the karanga accepts the manuhiri have come in peace.Once manuhiri have reached their seats, they should remain standing until the kaikorero tangata whenua indicates that they may sit.

Order of speeches

  • First a waiata/song is to be sung by the host; manuhiri/visitors also are asked to sing the waiata if they know the words. 
  • A karakia/prayer is then recited.
  • The first kaikorero tangata whenua/host speaker will open up the welcoming speeches, followed by a waiata, then kaikorero manuhiri/speaker for the visitors will be offered the right of reply, which on the marae should be in Māori.
  • There may be more than one speaker on the manuhiri side. Each speech is followed by an appropriate waiata. 
  • Men only are to sit in the front row of seats provided. 
  • The last speaker is to sit on the chair closest to the carved house. Therefore the person seated on his left is to speak first.
  • If there is a koha it is to be laid down by the last speaker for the manuhiri followed by a waiata. This will then be picked up and acknowledged by the tangata whenua.
  • The last speaker from the tangata whenua/host will now stand to complete the protocol of speeches. 
  • This completes the pōwhiri, and manuhiri will now be invited to move across to hariru/shake hands or hongi with the tangata whenua/host.
  • This is followed by morning or afternoon tea.
A powhiri takes place on the University marae.

Speaking on the marae

If you are comfortable speaking te reo Māori or any language other than English, you might want to consider being a kaikōrero (speaker on behalf of the students)/kaiwhakahoki i te karanga (responder to the karanga). If you do wish to speak, please let one of the Student Ambassadors know well in advance.

Appropriate behaviour

  • Please ensure all mobile phones are turned off, nobody is eating and everyone is respectfully listening to the kaikaranga while moving onto the marae and during the procedure of the pōwhiri.
  • We ask that manuhiri respect a tidy dress code. Absolutely no sports shorts, singlets or unpresentable dress attire.
  • If you are late, do not walk onto the marae or into the carved house. That would be disrespectful.