People who are thinking about visiting a marae as part of Waitangi Day celebrations or otherwise, should not be put off because they are unsure of protocol, a Marlborough iwi representative says.
Waikawa Marae in Picton briefed manuhiri [visitors] about the protocol of entering a marae before they walked on so they knew what to do, said marae committee member Bev Maata-Hart.
Ms Maata-Hart said they had a practice of getting the manuhiri assembled in the car park in front of the marae.
"There will always be someone there to guide them," she said.
"Someone will welcome them and explain exactly what's going to happen."
The ceremony began with the tangata whenua doing a karanga [welcome call] to the manuhiri, Ms Maata-Hart said.
The manuhiri then replied to the welcome or the marae sent someone out to do the job on behalf of the manuhiri.
From there, the manuhiri walked up to the flagpole and paused to remember the dead. The tangata whenua and then the manuhiri would do a karanga to acknowledge their ancestors, before moving up to the wharenui [meeting house].
"The men come in first, which is part of an ancient custom of the men checking out the unknown to protect the women and children," Ms Maata-Hart said.
The manuhiri would then shake hands with the tangata whenua and do a hongi, a greeting where two people press their noses together.
After a kai korero [greeting] and waita [Maori songs] the tangata whenua would then give a karakia [prayer] and everyone would sing a hymn together before joining each other for a cup of tea and a bite to eat.
- The Marlborough Express