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Marea is a religious place in New Zealand. It is an important site to observe healthy community relationship. Mainly it is a place of the refugees. It is a place, where they gather to discuss various issues, celebrate community festivals, and to bid farewell to any dead person. The tribe living in Marae is called Maori. According to king (2016), these people hold the belief of living a life of their own within their own set of value systems. Maoritanga is guided by these concepts and it outlines their cultural identity. Gurley (2015) discussed, they believe in exercising their own language, oratory, social etiquette and values. They have re-established their values and philosophies. According to Jones (2016), Marae is a socially integrative place fostering identity, pride, and self-respect of the people. The tanga and hui are the two communities living in Marae. These people have survived the influence of western civilization. To understand various aspects of indigenous learning and educational system, Marae is a significant choice. One can gather knowledge about language, oratory, itinerary, various programs, and guidelines that they follow. Hepi (2015) discussed, during his childhood, oratory expert Selwyn Muru listened to many great orators. He watched those taking actions on lost land and confronting hardships of rural life. He was fascinated by what he observed in his older generations. To know about the tradition of oratory, it is important to visit Marae once.
According to Rollo (2016), they expect a non-Maori people to understand these traditions and respect it to avoid any situation of embarrassment. One can say that visiting Marae is a cultural experience for the visitors. They get to know about the lives of Maoris closely. The selected school was Peria School. It is situated at 1430 Oruru Road of Peria in Marae. As discussed by Kelderman (2014), it is a rural school with 50 students along and 3 principals and 3 classroom teachers. They also have five administrative and support staff. According to Rewi (2013), it is found that the school is a well-constructed one with adequate facilities for the students. The teachers and the school authorities have ensured a high quality-learning environment for the students. Each classroom has an interactive whiteboard, a desktop or laptop for every child. Before talking about it in detail, first the journey to the Peria School will be discussed. Peria is a large Maori village. Surely, all the Maorian culture is observed there. Shilliam (2015) discussed that the school was amidst hill and beautiful plantations. It is found that every house was covered by the grove of peach trees. One can observe a Maori-built church and a burial place, a post office and a flourmill while going towards the school. It was an idyllic life.
In the Peria School, one would observe the teacher teaching students aged from eight to 50 including male and females. According to Ward (2013), there was a large Whare Runanga or council hall at the central position of the school. Aikman (2015) discussed, the chiefs discuss issues on Maori Nation inside this council hall. Their speeches are celebrated with fire, action, humour, decorum and dignity. All these are special features of traditional Maori oratory. Every morning and evening religious prayers start with ringing of bell. Johnson (2015) mentioned that there were classroom blocks and a separate administration area inside the school. A shade house inside the ground produces tree seedlings for sale. Zealand (2014) discussed, after reaching the school and interacting with the teachers and authorities, it is found that those people took great pride on their school and the opportunities they provide for the native students. Even the parents are actively involved in their child’s education through the open door policy of the school. It made them to participate in the activities outside the classroom.
Meeting at the Peria school of Marae. After reaching the school, all guests should assemble at the school gate. Each group should have a spokesperson and a Kai or caller. This Caller is supposed to be female who should respond at the welcoming call. An elderly woman of Tangata Whenua welcomes the Manuhiri visitors. This call functions as permission for the visitors to enter the Marae. Through the call, she also declares the area of the Marae to remain until all the formalities are accomplished. King (2012) discussed, the words that they utter cover four main areas. These are as follows:
· Welcome all visitors
· Pay tribute to deceased relatives
· Acknowledge their tribal lineage if possible
· Address the function of the Hui
As discussed by Aikman (2015), the visitors are supposed to listen to this call with great respect and then reciprocate with words. At the end of it, the elderly woman addresses the purpose of the visit. These rituals are followed by the visitors’ entry into the gathering place, where they all seat.
The speakers’ group will also sing a song or Waiata. The duration of this phase is long. All the formalities end with the lifting of Tapu.
The Tangata Whenua starts the programmes arranged for the Hui. It includes Hangi or a special type of meal.
In addition of all these, one would found excellent discipline and order in them. All students march inside and outside of the school carrying their books at a word of command. Next, they do their breakfast at eight am in the morning and then live in school before the dinner. Johnson (2015) discussed that all students are neatly dressed. The school provides them with necessary books, which are preserved in the boxes. These children are trained to read and write in the native Maori language perfectly. It is seen that the teachers dictate the Maori language and they note down everything in detail with perfection.
All the rituals and customs that the Maori people perform are transmitted from older generations to the new generations. According to Gurley (2015), both men and women play their parts in maintaining the traditional customs. It is already discussed that the women act as the main Callers. Most elderly women do this on behalf of the Maori people. The caller from the visitors’ group is also a woman. It is believed that these women having past the age of childbearing, posses the power to eliminate all negative influences of the visitors or the Tangata Whenua. However, they are not allowed sit in the front row at the gathering place because they believe it would affect their fertility. It is the men who sit there and deliver speeches. Even their wives are barred from sitting with these men. Women sit in third or fourth row. These people believe in protecting their women. It is believed that the speeches of the men negate all negative influences.
The tradition of oratory is maintained with discipline. King (2012) discussed that the males delivering speeches mainly talk about their ancestors so that the newer generation and the visitors start respecting the Maori tradition. However, the women sitting in the other rows are given the responsibility to correct the speeches if there are any mistakes. It is the tradition to announce the mistakes as loudly as possible so that everyone gets to know about the teal facts and the speaker feels ashamed for his mistake. It is a message to the new generation. Women are considered as the keeper of the culture. However, some of the Maori tribe do not allow women to speak anything. Women’s liberty to speak is a matter of concern in Maori. According to Shilliam (2015), in some instances, Prime Minister Helen Clarke faced problems speaking in the Marae. However, apart from some tribal communities, domination over women by men is not found in large sections. Women are given the central position in Aotearoa language revitalization movement. According to Shilliam (2015), during 1970s and 1980s, the Maori women led the protest against land, language and sovereignty. Mitra Szaszy, Eva Rickard, and Whina Cooper nurtured this language revitalization movement. According to Gurley (2015), even women stood by the efforts by men in the Women’s Welfare League, founded in 1951. Another instance of projecting women power in the Maori politics was observed in 1950s in the work of Dame Katerina Mataria.
All the elderly people are respected in great esteem. In a wider family, they are supposed to play various roles. They are the only source of knowledge about the tradition and history of Maori people. Therefore, they perform all the customs and rituals in most of the times. They act as the guardian leading the generations. They also take the responsibility of nurturing children. Whenever the parents work on the fields and go outside for fighting, these elderly people look after their children. The elderly people are responsible for giving solutions to any problems. According to Rewi (2013), in Maori language they are called “Kaumatua”. One can observe many stories and legends featuring the role of kaumatua in their lives. The elderly women pass their knowledge of traditions and customs to the female member of the new generation. From the 1970s, the Kaumatua flats were built by the Marae to keep these elderly people an active part of Marae community.
Shilliam (2015) discussed that the male members of the Marae community play the role of the leaders. They get involved in war and go to field for ploughing. All the Marae boys of newer generation learn the technique of war and ploughing from their fathers. The value system, discipline, and beliefs nurtured by the male members are transmitted to the newer generations. These male members are also experts in hunting. It is a fact that in rural areas, the main occupations of these Marae people are ploughing and hunting. To hold on with their tradition, it is mandatory to involve the new generations into the traditional system. As already discussed, the Male members of the community are given the responsibility of oratory. Apart from that, the male members perform the most famous traditional Hakka dance. One can also find it in the Rugby team of New Zealand. The male Rugby team has popularized this tribal dance form. The male members of the newer generation also adopt this traditional art from their male members.
Aikman, P. J. W. E. (2015). Within the Fourfold: Dwelling and Being on the Marae. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology & Cultural Studies, 12(2).
Gurley, M. (2015). The Myth of Tahiti: Breaking Colonial Confines and Finding the Subaltern Voice Through a Revival of Traditional Art Forms.
Hepi, T. (2015). History, gender and tradition in the M?ori nation: female leaders in Witi Ihimaera's The Matriarch, The Whale Rider and The Parihaka Woman: a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University, Manawat?, New Zealand (Doctoral dissertation, Massey University).
Johnson, N. F. (2015). The Past is in the Present. In Children’s Images of Identity (pp. 89-101). SensePublishers.
Jones, C. (2016). New Treaty, New Tradition: Reconciling New Zealand and Maori Law. UBC Press.
Kelderman, M. (2014). Te Whare W?nanga o Hoani Waititi Marae.
King, P., Hodgetts, D., Rua, M., & Te Whetu, T. (2015). Older men gardening on the marae: Everyday practices for being Maori. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 11(1), 14.
King, P., Young-Hauser, A., Li, W., Rua, M., & Nikora, L. W. (2012). Exploring the nature of intimate relationships: A M?ori perspective..
Rewi, P. (2013). Whaikorero: The world of maori oratory. Auckland University Press.
Rollo, T. M. (2016). Kapa Haka Transforms Lives Through Arts-Based Service Learning: Developing a Sense of Community Ownership in Service Learning Projects: A M?ori Perspective. Engaging First Peoples in Arts-Based Service Learning: Towards Respectful and Mutually Beneficial Educational Practices, 159-174.
Shilliam, R. (2015). The black Pacific: Anti-colonial struggles and oceanic connections. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Ward, A. (2013). Show of Justice: Racial Amalgamation in Nineteenth Century New Zealand. Auckland University Press.
Zealand, S. N. (2014). Taku marae e: Connecting to ancestral marae 2013.
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