An Inspiring Visit to a Māori Marae

Today the Symposium instructors group had a special opportunity to visit a Marae, a Maori community center in Papakura, Auckland. We were welcomed with a Powhiri (Maori greeting) onto the grounds and then entered the Wharenui (Meeting house) followed by some lunch (Kai) and sketching in and around the Wharenui before heading back to the Usk venue to meet all the attendees.

Tony McNeight’s Marae sketch.

Papakura Marae is a lively place where since 1990 people can find health care, cultural venue and sports activities. Today a group was practicing boxing and mothers with kids were hanging around. Almost 15 people have been involved in this welcome ritual. We shook hands or pressed our nose and foreheads (hongi) with everybody and I was surprised to find two people with Italian relatives among this Māori community. “Buongiorno! My grandfather is from Genova” said a guy.

I loved the carved wood statues and particularly the one at the entrance where modern technology (a Boeing 747) and traditional way of transportation (the waka) are hold in different hands by Pakena, to underline the inclusive nature of the Marae.

“There is but one needle through which the white, red an black must pass. Hold to the law, faith and love, forsake all the rest”. The wisdom of this Māori proverb is quite touching being them discriminated for such a long time. “You sketchers from all over the world are the red, the white and the black” said our host.

There is so much to learn about Māori, this first introduction was really interesting and I hope to get the chance to discover more in the next days.


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