Members Update – September 2016

Members Update – Powhiri

To celebrate the milestone that has been achieved following a four years’ research programme into Manuka Honey, a celebratory function was held at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Leading researchers, international partners and VIPs attended the event which included a Powhiri – Maori welcome – and presentations.

The Powhiri which was performed by the Ngati Whatua Iwi proved to be a highlight of the evening. Former chairman and current member of the UMFHA, Sir Wira Gardiner, led guests attending the event through the protocols of the Powhiri exchange and challenge.

The special ceremony was a particularly memorable experience for all involved especially for the overseas guests who had travelled from as far away as the UK, China and Japan to attend the event. The inclusion of a Maori cultural aspect at the event underscored the importance of Manuka Honey to New Zealand and its uniqueness on the international stage.

 

About the Powhiri – the ritual ceremony of encounter
The pōwhiri begins with a challenge

A pōwhiri usually begins outside the marae with a wero (challenge). A warrior from the tangata whenua (hosts) will challenge the manuhiri (guests), checking to see whether they are friend or foe. He may carry a taiaha (spear-like weapon), and will lay down a token  – often a small branch – for the visitors to pick up to show they come in peace.

The call of welcome

An older woman from the host side will perform a karanga (call) to the manuhiri. This is the visitors’ signal to start moving on to the marae. A woman from among the visitors will respond with her own call. Visitors walk onto the marae as a group, slowly and silently with the women in front of the men. They will pause along the way to remember their ancestors who have passed on.

Speeches and songs

Once on the marae grounds and either in front of or inside the main ancestral house, the guests and hosts take their seats facing each other. Now speeches are made – usually by the older men of the two groups. A song is sung following each speaker to support his address. After the speeches, the visitors present a koha (gift) to their hosts.

Greetings and food

To cap off formal proceedings, visitors and hosts greet each other with a hongi – the ceremonial touching of noses. After the pōwhiri, kai (food) will be shared, in keeping with the Māori tradition of manaakitanga or hospitality.

 

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