The Powhiri is a welcome ceremony performed when a group of guests visit a marae that they may not have been to before. The marae is a significant space for its iwi and deserves the utmost respect; this is why such an elaborate welcome is required.
Traditionally, the hosts would have conducted this welcome to visiting iwi, as they consider those that have never entered that particular marae to be “Waewae Tapu” or sacred feet. They must welcome these guests correctly so that their spirits are protected whilst they are on the property of the host iwi. In the present day, the Powhiri is used in other situations too, like welcoming a new staff member into the workplace or foreign dignitaries to New Zealand.
You can break a powhiri down into several stages, some are more important than others, and not all steps are universal, but it’s good to know them all to prepare you for your role in the welcome, should you have the honour.
The Powhiri requires two groups, the Tangata Whenua (hosts) and the Manuhiri (visitors), each with a part to play in the welcome.