Takipū Marae Guidelines

Whakataki / introduction

The marae and the meeting house are focal points of a Māori community. The rituals and ceremonies which take place on the marae are an integral part of Māori culture.

Marae protocol throughout New Zealand varies from one district to another. The guidelines that follow apply generally to marae in the Tairawhiti district but mainly to Takipu Marae.


What is a Marae

The marae is an institution from the classical Māori society that has survived the impact of western civilisation. The marae itself is the sacred courtyard in from of the ancestral meeting house. The marae and the meeting house are complementary and both serve as the focal point for community sentiment.

The marae is the place where Māori values and philosophy are reaffirmed. It is the only institution where the dignity of the tangihanga (funeral) can be preserved and the dead fare welled in the appropriate customary fashion.

The marae is central to the concept of Māoritanga and the Māori cultural identity. Māori oratory, language, values and social etiquette are given their fullest expression on the marae at the tangihanga and hui (assemblies/gatherings).

The marae is socially integrative in the sense that it fosters identity, self respect, pride and social control. The marae is also integrative in that all people are welcome as guests.


Marae behaviour guidelines

The marae is sacred to the living and is a memorial to the dead and ancestors. For this reason, enter a marae in a reverent manner.

All newcomers to the marae must be welcomed formally. It is an encounter place, where challenges are met and issues are debated. However, before this is possible manuhiri (visitors) must have the tapu (foreign element) in them removed by the traditional ceremony of pōwhiri.

Conduct of the welcome is prescribed by local tribal tikanga (custom). Likewise, the direction in which the manuhiri move, and the positions allotted to the tangata whēnua(local people) in the meeting house.

Conduct afterwards is more general in nature. It is based on commonsense and concern for others and the marae. These rules apply to all marae and the onus is on everybody to keep facilities cleaned and attractive, and as well promote an atmosphere which encourages honest mannerly encounters.

Tangata whēnua have rules of conduct to observe as well. Though different, they are equally as important as those which govern manuhiri behaviour.


General rules of conduct

  • The area immediately in front of the meeting house, i.e. the marae proper, is to be kept clear at all times.
  • Alcohol is not permitted on or near the marae. Some marae apply this rule to all functions including weddings etc. Others again are open to request for permission to provide alcohol at social events.
  • Māori tradition decrees that the left hand side of the meeting house is to be occupied by the tangata whēnua, while manuhiri occupy the right hand side, the rear and any positions left vacant on the left hand side, starting from the rear.
  • The sleeping spaces on the right nearest to the front door are always reserved for senior members of the visiting party.
  • Mattresses and bedclothes should be neatly folded before breakfast. People should not sit on marae pillows.
  • Eating and smoking is not allowed in the meeting house.
  • People should avoid walking over others or across the line of speakers who are not to be interrupted unduly in any way.
  • Dress is normally informal, simple and neat at all times.
  • Sitting on dining room tables in not allowed.
  • Baggage is to be brought in after formalities, not before.
  • Clothes should be kept in baggage or neatly folded on top. Clothes should not be hung from the walls.
  • Shoes are not to be worn in the meeting house. These should be left outside either of the exits.
  • Important!!!! A tangi takes precedence over all other functions on the marae. In the event of a death among the tangata whēnua other events could be curtailed or even cancelled so that the marae can be available for the tangi.


Behaviour of children

Parents are responsible for ensuring that children observe the rules of conduct which apply to the marae, otherwise parents have no right to take offence if their children are admonished by other adults.