M?ori Welcome

April 29, 2010
By Stephanie_T BRONZE, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Stephanie_T BRONZE, Albuquerque, New Mexico
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

Approaching the whare runanga(1),
Wiping the lingering grogginess
From our eyes,
They met those of the koruru(2),
His fierceness spreading
From his soul to his eyes to his tongue.
The maihi(3) form his arms,
The carved grooves, his fingers.
His spine is the ridgepole,
His ribs, the heke(4).

P?whiri(5) began with
Wero - the challenge.

Three M?ori warriors,
Donning ceremonial weapons
And advancing towards us,
Performed threatening gestures and grimaces,
Called out battle screams and cries,
All to show us they could explode at any second,
Releasing a torrent of violence upon us.
Coming to a close when a M?ori man
Accepted the offering we placed on the ground.

Then, there was
Karanga - the call.

The kai karanga's(6) song
Swelled with energy and grace,
Singing sweetly to the
Broken, bruised, and battle-worn;
To the unkempt and the unrecalled;
To hearts and souls of all of us
Who had the honor of calling ourselves,
If only for a while, Manuhiri(7).
When the song had been sung,
We approached the Tangata Whenua(8)
Lifting the “sacred separation”
With hongi(9) or hariru(10).

The welcome concluded with
H?kari – the feast.

Stones were heated in a fire
Lit in a dug out pit behind the kitchen,
And covered in cabbage leaves and watercress.
Mutton, pork, chicken, potatoes, and kumera(11)
Lowered into the pit in a basket to cook.
They covered the food with flax,
Then by a layer of earth to contain the steam.
The rich flavor of steamed food with an earthen taste
I never dream of forgetting.

Named for an esteemed ancestor,
We returned to the whare runanga
And slept in his bosom, his stomach.
“Leave your shoes outside,
And remember that this house is highly tapu(12).
Always remember, and you will be a guest among us.”

1.meeting house
2.large carved head with no part of the body visible
3.sloping bargeboards
5.M?ori welcome, involving
6.woman caller
9.pressing of noses
10.shaking hands
11.sweet potato

The author's comments:
Most people don't know much about the culture of the M?ori, the natives of New Zealand. I had the amazing opportunity to visit and stay at a Morai, and that experience inspired me to write this piece.

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This article has 1 comment.

on May. 6 2010 at 5:42 pm
Stephanie_T BRONZE, Albuquerque, New Mexico
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

the "?" in "M?ori" are suporsed to be an "a" that has a line over it, and in "P?whiri" it is an "o" with a line over it.


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