A Guide to Pōwhiri

Pōwhiri at Orientation is the beginning of your relationship with Whitireia, formally marking and celebrating the first step on your journey with us. Whitireia has a close partnership with Ngāti Toa and the pōwhiri follows the way in which Ngāti Toa welcome people onto their marae and into their area. 

Pōwhiri usually consists of the following stages:

  1. Karanga (call)
    This is the first and unique call of welcome in the pōwhiri. It is performed by women and is usually started by the tangata whenua (the people who are welcoming you and your ancestors) and is followed by a response by the manuhiri (the new people and visitors). Kai karanga open the spirirual realm.

    Action point – when the karanga on your side starts, move forward and find a seat, but don’t sit straight away. Wait until the karanga stops and take your cue from others who will let you know when to sit.

  2. Whaikōrero (speeches)
    Formal speech making follows the karanga. Speeches usually begin with a section that acknowledges those who have passed away. The remainder of the content of the speeches usually refers to the kaupapa of the pōwhiri. For this pōwhiri, speakers will be referring to your new journey, and to your search for knowledge and qualifications. They will speak of the commitment the institution and the iwi have to ensure you are successful. 

  3. Waiata (song)
    A song is sung after each whaikōrero by the group that the speaker represents. There will be speakers on behalf of you, the new student. If you know the waiata that is being sung, please feel free to stand up and join in. 

  4. Koha (gift)
    Traditionally a gift is given to the tangata whenua (hosts) by the manuhiri (visitors) however there is no expectation that students will provide koha to the institution they are about to become members of.

  5. Harirū (shaking hands)
    The manuhiri physically engages with the tangata whenua through hongi – pressing of noses and sharing of breath which signifies the joining together of tangata whenua and manuhiri. You will be invited to come forward to harirū - shake hands and hongi.

  6. Kai (food)

    The final part of the process is to eat food. This usually signifies the end of the pōwhiri. The eating of food is a physical process and helps everyone to move from the heightened spiritual state of the pōwhiri to ordinary activities of daily living.