Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My First Mihi Whakatau and Other Glimpses Into Maori Culture

The Public Health Association of New Zealand opened the annual conference on 4 September 2012 with Mihi Whakatau (a formal welcome).   To begin, Manuhiri (visitors) were invited into a lecture theater.  After we were all seated the Tangata Whenua (people of the land - marae representatives) went to the front.  The Kaumatua (elder) said a karakia (prayer) and mihi (greeting speech).  The Tangata Whenua then did a waiata tautoko (song of support) for his speech.  A male representative for the visitors responded with a mihi.  Here's a video of the waiata to support him:

The protocol for the Mihi Whakatau allow Tangata Whenua and Manuhiri to merge as one and become the Whanau (family) for the conference.  I think it was great to incorporate the Mihi Whakatau into the conference.  I had no idea what was going on for the hour or so that the Mihi Whakatau went on, but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless and liked the idea of us merging as one.

That wasn't the last of the singing, though.   Children came and sang for us on a few occasions.  During this song the whole audience got involved:

I'll post more about what I learned at the conference from the presentations I attended later on.  In the mean time, here's one last video of the children to tide you over: 

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