The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
He said, “If I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” (Genesis 18:1-5)
In keeping with the culture of his day, Abraham sought to honour his guests with food, shelter, and comfort. In the same way, tikanga Māori places great emphasis of welcoming visitors (manuhiri) into a community. Not only do Māori provide manakitanga (hospitality and honour) to visitors, but through welcoming them according to protocol, they bestow the right of becoming tangata whenua, or the people of the land.
Here at KingsWay School, we adopt the tikanga of mihi whakatau, or the practice of officially speaking words of welcome to new students and staff, assimilating them into the KingsWay whanau. This event occurs annually, with each school gathering to welcome guests into the community.
Beginning with a karakia tīmatanga (opening prayer), the mihi whakatau proceeds through a series of welcomes and counter greetings. Each whaikōrero is supported by a waiata (song) that is sung to reiterate the warmth of welcome and message given by each party. Symbolically, manuhiri are welcomed through hongi and moving from the side of guests to hosts toward the end of proceedings. During COVID-19 times, the hongi is replaced by a ceremonial handshake, supported with plenty of sanitiser!
Concluding with a karakia whakamutunga, the mihi whakatau ends with a blessing prayed over all present, embracing manuhiri as one people before Christ.
Hauora and Wellbeing