Marae experience in the city

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Students learning Moari song and dance
Students learning Moari song and dance Photo: Samantha-Jane Harding

Being a young woman of Maori descent, having the opportunity to spend the night at a marae in the city of Auckland was something I wasn’t going to pass up.

This trips wasn’t just about having a bonding experience with our fellow class mates from the New Zealand Radio Training School, it was also about embracing Maori culture.

Experiencing the way a marae runs through the typical protocols was exciting to say the least.

The marae’s female elder sang as we entered the grounds of the marae. Introductions were made, and it was time for our first snack of the day.

After a light refreshment we were taken outside to learn about a hangi and the process of how it is made. Preparation got underway, which involved washing and peeling vegetables, making the stuffing, laying out the meat and heating the stones in the hangi pit.

While the hangi was prepared, students were treated to a poi-making class and learned Maori songs and dances.

The bell then rang, indicating that food was ready, and it was time to pull the hangi out from the pit. There is nothing like the smokey taste of chicken and stuffing from a freshly-served hangi.

After many visits to the table, which was laden with delicious food, it was time to prepare the Wharenui for sleeping.

Hours went by as we shared stories about ourselves and Maori culture.

The people that run Te Tahawai Marae made us feel as though we were family, and said we were welcome to return in the future.

View a selection of photos from the marae visit below:

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