How to increase your knowledge of Maori literacy in one easy read: Te Marae

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).

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” videos with the focus on Maori learning and teaching.

The videos 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.

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.

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

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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