While one of the most known traditions from the Maori culture is the haka, which is known worldwide thanks to the immense success of the New Zealand rugby team (the powerful “All Blacks”, as they are nicknamed because of their uniforms), there is atleast one other custom that is so famous that tour agents and hospitality operators never fail to include it in their packages when a tourist visits these far away lands: Maori greetings are a beauty in itself and consist of very complicated rituals.

  • Of course they include the lovely “Kia Ora”, one of the most famous forms of salutation that is roughly equivalent to our “Hello”.
  • The welcoming ceremony is called the “Powhiri”.
  • The Powhiri takes place in a greeting ground called the “Marae”.
  • When visitors are not to be greeted in a formal way, there’s a much looser ceremonial called “Mihi Whakatau” that gets performed instead.
  • While the following are absent in the Mihi Whakatau, the structure of the Powhiri is always the same: it begins with a Wero, a tribal dance where three warriors, impersonating three different Maori gods, assess the courage and strength of the newcomers (the “manuhiri”) by trying to scare them away. If they pass this test of sorts, they will be allowed into the Marae.

The Powhiri doesn’t stop here!

  • Greetings in the Powhiri include an exchange of gifts, a Karanga (a ritual song by Maori women), a tribute to the deceased in both the Maori community and that of the visitors and an explanation given to the Maori community as to why the visit is taking place on that specific occasion.
  • Finally, the world-famous Hongi greeting is exchanged: you might have seen this in numerous movies or in person in the event you have visited New Zealand, and it’s when the Maori and visitors press their noses and foreheads close together, as if to share the same breath.