Te Powhiri is a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony. It follows a strict protocol, and has ten parts. These are:

1. Ko Nga Tangata (The People)
Two groups are required in order for a powhiri be conducted. First, the Tangata Whenua (the hosts) and secondly the Manuhiri (visitors). A minimum of four people are required, two males and two females. The women will each perform a karanga (call) and the males speak the mihi (speeches).

2. Inoi (Prayer)
An inoi is said by both Manuhiri and Tangata Whenua to safeguard the well-being of all the people gathered for the Powhiri, and to ensure that the ritual is completed without disturbance.

3. Wero (Challenge)
A traditional challenge is not always carried out at powhiri today, mainly because the intent of visitors is pretty much universally peaceful. However, it is a traditional part of the ceremony. When it is conducted its form will vary from place to place, but will be similar to that outlined below.

The Wero consists of one or three of the most highly trained warriors from the host village challenging the intent of the visitors. Once the visitors are sighted the warriors will approach them. The first of the three will move forward cautiously, looking to see if any of the visitors are concealing anything. A hand inside a cloak may indicate a concealed weapon for example.
If the group is large he will check only one side, and then give the signal that this side is clear. The second warrior repeats the process on the other side of the group, and when he is sure there is no danger on his side of the group he will also signal this.

The last warrior is usually the strongest most skilled in the village. He will move towards the visitors, giving a display of expertise and skill with weapons. Symbolically, he carries the mana (prestige) of the village, and he seeks to be as impressive as possible. If the visitors are well-known he will approach them and place a dart (take) in front of the leader of the group. If the visitors are strangers, he may throw the dart from a distance, for his own safety. If the visitors pick up the dart it is sign of peace, if the visitors have an aggressive intent they will ignore the dart and attack.

Once the dart has been accepted and the third warrior is certain that everything is safe, he will slap his thigh to signal that the visitors follow him, and lead them to the rest of the village.

4. Karanga (Call)
The wero is conducted without speech. It is in the karanga that the first voice is heard in powhiri. This is traditionally carried out by a female elder on each side and begins with the Tangata Whenua. The caller for the Manuhiri then replies. The call from the kai karanga, (the elder of the hosts) is an invitation to enter Te Marae nui atea o Tumatauenga - the courtyard in front of the host's Whare Tupuna or Ancestral House, and the response from the kai whakatu (the caller from the visitors) is the acceptance of this.
The purpose of the karanga is to weave a spiritual rope to allow the Manuhiri to enter onto the Marae safely.

5. Haka Powhiri (Welcome Dance)
Once the calling is complete the hosts perform the Haka Powhiri . The purpose of this dance is both to symbolically pull the waka (the traditional canoe) of the visitors onto the marae atea with the rope that was weaved during the karanga and to uplift the mana of the Tangata Whenua, -- enhancing the honour of their marae (meeting place), iwi (tribe), hapu (sub-tribe or village) and their tupuna (ancestors).

6. Mihi (Speeches)
The purpose of the mihi is to acknowledge and integrate the past, present and future, by calling on the creator, guardians, the hunga mate (dead), the hunga ora (living - those present) and setting out the kaupapa (reason) for the event that is being held. Traditionally only the experts in the art of Whaikorero (Oratory) on each side would perform the mihi, and traditionally the speakers are always male. All the speakers for the Tangata Whenua speak first and are followed by the speakers for the Manuhiri.

7. Waiata (Chant/Song)
The waiata is to show that the people the speaker represents support him and what he has said. A waiata will follow each mihi and it may reference and praise what has been said, the occasion, the group itself or the speaker's whakapapa (genealogy). Genealogy is very important to Maori, as it forms a connection between the living and their ancestors, and many Maori can trace their ancestry back to one or other of the great waka in which the people came to New Zealand.

These two stages can be very extended, depending on the level of importance of the event and the number of speakers who wish to contribute to the proceedings.

8. Koha (Gift)
Koha is given to the Tangata Whenua by the Manuhiri. It is offered by last speaker for the visitors to indicate that their speeches are complete, and is laid on the ground. This is the first direct contact the hosts and visitors have. Traditionally koha took the form of valuable materials - pounamu (jade or greenstone), whale bone, korowai (cloaks), delicacies and so on. Today, the gift is usually money. The koha acts as a contribution from the visitors to help with the upkeep of the marae and towards the costs associated with the powhiri itself. The size of the koha indicates the mana of the visitors.

9. Hongi (Traditional form of Greeting)
The hongi is the first physical contact between the two groups. It is not in fact a rubbing of noses, as is widely thought, but instead a gentle pressing together of foreheads and noses.

10. Hakari / Kai (Feast/Eating)
This is the final stage of the powhiri, and is where the tapu (the sanctity) of the powhiri is removed by sharing food -- kai. The separation between the groups is now removed and the tangata whenua and the manuhiri are now one people until the visitors leave.

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