Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Land: Taking the Oath Amongst Maori Hospitality.

I have published this article to support our Blog4NZ promotion. Hope you all enjoy what was a wonderful time for us.

Our friends are of diverse ethnicity, and we have attended citizenship ceremonies before as some elect to become New Zealand citizens, and not just residents. To gain full citizenship status is a long process, and many boxes have to be ticked to qualify. Some years ago, we sponsored the immigration of friends from UK to New Zealand, so we proudly accepted their invitation to attend their ceremony where they would finally receive their citizenship papers.

But this ceremony was different; rather special in factas our Kapiti Coast District Council had partnered with one of our local Iwi, or Maori tribes to hold the full ceremony at the Raukawa Marae in Otaki township, just north of Paraparumu. We looked forward to this event because we had never been on that marae, and to enter into the whare runanga or meeting house was a special event and an honour for us. We were going to support our friends, and also be able to experience Maori culture and take a look at the intricate carvings and tukutuku panel work that adorn the whare runanga or meeting hall, built in 1936.
Outside the entrance to the Marae. Monica Fraser, Iwi Liason Officer greets us.

If you have the opportunity to enter onto a marae, get to know a little about custom or protocol so you will better understand what is happening. This site- korero maori protocols for marae gives very good info. We read this before the event.

We timed our drive to Otaki to arrive at the Main Street entrance prior to the formal welcome call or karanga . A group of around 100 had gathered; soon to be citizens accompanied by friends or relatives. While waiting outside, we chatted with KCDC's Kaumatua Rakau-o-te-ora ( Don ) Te Maipi and Council's Iwi Liason Officer Monica Fraser. I asked if it was appropriate to take their photos.

The karanga, the traditional welcome delivered in a high noted singsong style was called by the hosts on the Marae, and answered by a similar call by women who had joined our group outside. We filed through the gate and into the whare runanga. Women normally would sit towards the back, men in front, although for this ceremony couples or families that were part of the ceremony were seated towards the front so they could be called forward easily.
Filing into the Whare Runanga.
A welcome to the proceedings was extended by Council's Communications Officer Then the opening prayer was lead in Maori by Kaumatua Don Te Maipi. Followed by Whakatau- a personal welcome in Maori. Our Mayor Jenny Rowan then welcomed all guests and began calling forward each recipient in turn, taking their Oath of Allegiance and presenting to them their Certificates of Citizenship.

Our friends Pauline and Bill accepting their Certificates of Citizenship.
Flanked by Jools Joslin, Mayor Jenny Rowan and Kaumatua Don TeMaipi.

I was really fascinated by the interior.
All the rafters and beams are patterned with kowhaiwhai  You can see them as a border across the top of the photo and running along all beams.

These patterns are courtesy  of There are many designs which may be symbolic or purely decorative.

Upright pillars are decorated with whakairo carvings. Each one different and symbolic of the tribes history.
In between are tukutuku woven panels. Each Iwi or tribe's women would weave these, symbolic of their connection to the land, the sky, the trees, water and wind, even to time; all depicted in the various patterns created.

The closing prayer was read by Kaumatua Don Te Maipi.

Kia tau, kia tatou katoa                                     May the blessing of Lord Jesus Christ,
Te atawhai o to tatau Ariki a Hehu Karaiti,          And the love of God, be upon us all,
MeTe aroha te Atua,                                        And the fellowship and the Holy Spirit,
Me Te whiwhingatitanga,                                 Now and forever,
Ki te wairua tapu,                                            Amen
Ake, ake, ake,

Kay and I, and our friends were very impressed by the intimate and colorful ceremony, and truly loved the whole atmosphere of cordiality extended by our Maori hosts.
We came away buzzing. Truly an amazing experience.



Bret Love said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post, Jim! I've always been fascinated by Maori culture (even before Whale Rider popularized it in the U.S.), so it was great to read more about the traditions. Thanks for sharing!

Julia said...

Great post Jim. I used to be a big rugby league fan in the UK and have had a fascination with the Maori culture since I was a kid. A lot of the Rugby league players in the UK are Maori. Needless to say, the highlight was always when the Kiwis toured. I'd go to as many matches as possible just to watch the Haka - and the whole crowd would all watch in absolute silence. You must have felt really privileged to attend this ceremony.

The Dropout said...

That sounds like a very special citizenship ceremony. Thanks for sharing, Jim.

Alejandro said...

I found it wonderful that you Kiwis embraced the indigenous culture yet didn't appreciate the prayer just me

Cheers A

JIM said...

really interesting Jim..anyone living there should have a camera with you every day.. great images. Love the kowhaiwhai

Jorie Pacli said...

Nice sharing Jim! I haven't known much about Kiwis' tradition and citizenship ceremony but your post has taught me something new today. And, I noticed that you like intricate details....;)

Rachel Hoyt said...

Wow. LOVE the whakairo carvings! :) It's exciting to see there is such a great ceremony associated with citizenship in some places. It's symbolism is moving. :)

Here's my first Blog4NZ post: Have Some Fun Under the New Zealand Sun.

Mary said...

Jim, this is absolutely beautiful! How different cultures around the world are. I never make a visit to your site and go away uneducated! Thank you for sharing:)

Jim said...

Thanks everyone. This was a very enjoyable ceremony. The very next morning I rang our Mayor's PA and asked her to congratulate the Mayor, KCDC and Maori who made this marae based ceremony possible. I have been sitting on the article for this Blog4NZ event as it was important that any promotion on NZ incldes maoritanga.

Kerry-Ann said...

This just isn't fair! How did you organise this. This is the way a citizenship ceremony should be done!
We are waiting for our ceremony confirmation letter. Who do you know that can pull strings for us??? I WANT a citizen ceremony like this....

Jim said...

Don't blame me Kerry-Ann. Ya gotta thankk the way our Council is working in with our Iwi here. So go tell your mayor to get their act together and do the same. I think we're the only council in NZ to do it this way. BTW only possible during Summer as we'd all look like wet sheep waiting in the rain outside.

Red Nomad OZ said...

That's a great NZ tale! And those designs are so intricate - so great to have such a diverse and interesting culture!

Why not link this post up to my blog hop?? Hope to see you there!!

Jeremy B said...

Thanks for sharing about the Maori people. Nice to learn a little about their culture.

lindsay @_thetraveller_ said...

Great read Jim. I knew you would be doing a NZ post today :) I love the country and have read so many amazing things I didn't even know about it while doing my blog rounds today. I will be preparing my blog post about NZ after so keep your eyes open! :)

lindsay @_thetraveller_ said...

I also just realized you have a spam filter and I'm pretty sure I've made a lot of comments on here and forgot to enter the code, alas closing the browser before the actual comments goes through. OOPS! :)

Jozef @ Where Now said...

This gets me excited for our trip to NZ in the next few months!! The Maori cuture seems really interesting!

TexaGermaNadian said...

I love this! Thanks for the mini vacay :) And this round the world blog hop is awesome. I appreciate the trip from my arm chair!

Red Nomad OZ said...

Hi again! Thanx for playing 'Round the World' again - great to see so many NZ posts!!

Aleah said...

I envy you for being in NZ! I had always wanted to visit that wonderful country. Someday, I will :)

Alessandra said...

I remember my citizenship ceremony, it was lovely. But then we could continue coltivating Maori heritage and language and culture, or it will die!
I am attending Maori language classes, no something many Kiwis do, they don't se the point... which is very sad.