Maori Powhiri Process

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  • Topic: Haka, Māori culture, Māori
  • Pages : 7 (2192 words )
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  • Published : March 2, 2013
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The powhiri process is known as the welcome process in inviting its manuhiri (visitors) into the marae (a gathering place of Maori). Throughout the ceremony, depending on the iwi, the ceremony goes through many processes. Each of the process bears an important meaning from determining the cause of visitation to remembering the dead; these processes are performed with great importance in the marae. These processes, though bearing the same name, vary for different gatherings. In the literature review, we will be looking into the difference of karanga, whaikorero and haka in terms of ceremonies or presenters of the ceremony. Karanga

In the context of ceremonial gatherings, karanga is usually performed by the tangata whenua to signal an invitation to the manuhiri. One or more women beginning with the tangata whenua usually perform the kai karanga followed by a respond by one or more manuhiri women. During this ceremony, Salmond (2004: 117) describes the process of the karanga as “an elderly local woman would be standing in the porch of the carved meeting house and begins a high wailing call of welcome (karanga) followed by a party of woman performing an action chant of powhiri.” Throughout the process, women are seen to be keening, sobbing and wailing as the karanga makes acknowledgement to the dead (Salmond 2004). King (1975) sees that the karanga invites the spirit of the deceased to return to its people along with its visitors coming into the marae to pay their respects.

However in a context of tangihanga, the process slightly differs from the ceremonial process. Karanga is also made to invite visitors but it is not done always. As seen in the book written by Mead and Mead (2003: 99), in some iwi karanga is not performed in tangihanga; visitors just follow behind the coffin and gather around the burial hole. When karanga is perfomed, an older women of the settlement would be perform a wailing of Haeremai (Oppenheim: 1973: 48) as soon as the visitors were sighted. The context of the karanga remains to be calling out in remembrance of the dead. Usually the wailing and sobbing in a tangi is loud and long (Salmond 2004). This could be due to the fact that death is so intimate and real. The Maori people believes that the spirit of the dead roams around for a specific period of one year before taking its role as guarding the children through ritual action (Shoko 2007). Whaikorero

Whaikorero is normally known as a formal speech, on nearly all marae that the tangata whenua usually speak both first and last (Hiwi and Tauroa 1986: 60). In a powhiri, Whaikorero usually begins with a whakaaraara, a tauparapara before making acknowledgements to the marae and whare tipuna, the mate and eventually taking into the purpose of visitation (Higgins and Moorfield 2004). The structure of whaikorero might deviate among iwi and most significantly, the permission for a woman to whaikorero.

Looking at the position in a marae during the whaikorero, manuhiri is usually placed at the left while the tangata whenua will be standing at the other side and separated by the tapu space (Mead and Mead: 2003). Before the purpose of the visitation is determined, Durie (1999) illustrates that a space exist in between the tangata whenua and manuhiri, both in terms of physical arrangements and tapu. The arrangement on the marae creates distance between the host and its guest (Mahuta 1974:16). Although through wero the intention of visitors have been determined to be peaceful before inviting them into the marae, the space between the visitors will still exist until the initial purpose have been settled. Whaikorero traditionally served as an important purpose of judging the intentions of the visiting party through the speeches, without presuming the outcome was to be friendly (Durie 1999). Through these speeches the intention of the visitors would be determined and doubts will be clarified through these speeches. The purpose of the visitation prior European...
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