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This Kawa of the Marae unit is an update of a popular one that appeared online about the turn of the century/millennium/decade. Whilst the original may be dated, this new format will sort out any aging issues.

Note: There is lots of cross-curricular integration involved, in fact much more than what is in the actual planning. So feel free to assess those learning opportunities as they arise.

This is great unit if you understand and can cope with learner-driven learning. The learner finding out what they want and need to know, rather than the teacher dictating what they must learn.”  (We all know that doesnt work!)

As Albert Einstein once said:

I never teach my students. I only provide the condition in which they can learn.

Learning Objectives

Social Sciences L4

  • Understand how people pass on and sustain culture and heritage for different reasons and that this has consequences for people.
  • Understand how formal and informal groups make decisions that impact on communities


Through this process, and in a range of settings, akoranga will gain an understanding that;
  • cultural practices vary but reflect similar purposes;
  • people remember and record the past in different ways;

Specific Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, Akoranga will be able to;

• Describe how a marae reflects Maori culture and heritage. • Describe how Kopinga Marae reflects Moriori culture and heritage. • Explain what happens on a Maori marae. • Explain what happens on a Moriori marae. • Conduct an Inquiry. • Demonstrate how they can use verbal and visual features to communicate ideas about marae protocol.

Introduce the unit title “Te Kawa o Kōpinga Marae“, and discuss its potential meaning with akoranga.

Starter activity

Read through the information (on the tabs below) with akoranga and then discuss with them why they think each of these rules is needed.

What could the consequences be of breaking these rules. Discuss the language used and any new concepts or ideas that akoranga may discover.

Kawa O Te Marae
The meaning of Tapu

“So in the descriptions of kawa above, you would have seen the word Tapu mentioned. Without referring back to the kawa rules, what do you think Tapu means?”  Discuss with the class

Use the whiteboard to record keywords from students

Task: Share the following link with students:   Tapu Task (Don’t worry. it will open in a new tab)

Collect and record information

Maori Marae:

Get akoranga to look at the following pages about Marae  (links open in new windows) Give them a timeframe or guide them through the links.

1. Inside the marae

2. Outside the marae

3. New Marae

4. Marae Architecture

Have akoranga break into groups and discuss what they have seen on those pages.

Focus discussions on how  the marae buildings protect / enhance or ensure the heritage, history and culture of a group of people?

“How do you think that marae preserves whakapapa (genealogy)?”

“Why are those particular deities or ancestors mounted in each position: On the various pou, on tahuhu, tekoteko, koruru, maihi, amo and poupou?”

“What does the tukutuku panels represent?”

“What other hokoairo / whakairo is present in the marae. Why do you think its there?”

“What other stories are there to be found in marae?”

During discussion encourage akoranga to come up with examples from their own experience. Talk about language, customs, traditions, food, the arts – dance, music, art, buildings, place names, stories about the past, taonga.

Finish this section with an art task where akoranga can crate a contemporary design that illustrates an ancestor of their own. Could use digital tools such as Kleki, Sketchpad, Pixilart etc

Download, print off and display around the classroom

Moriori Marae:

Akoranga research within a timeframe everything that they can about the Moriori marae (Kōpinga) and note their findings.  Class discussion about these.

Try these pages first:

Get akoranga to discuss and share what they now know about Kōpinga marae.

“Why are those particular deities or ancestors mounted in each position: What artwork or hokoairo is on the pou. What is the big pou in th emiddle called. Are there tahuhu, tekoteko, koruru, maihi, amo and other poupou? Or are they called something different and what is on them?”

“What other hokoairo is present in the marae. Why do you think its there?”

What are all of the artworks on the walls? Do they tell a story? (if so, what?)

“What other stories are there to be found in this marae?”

During discussion encourage akoranga to talk about the language being used. Compare it to that in a contemporary Maori marae. Compare words: hokoairo / whakairo, hokopapa / whakapapa.

“What can we find out about the customs, traditions, foods, the arts – dance, music, art, buildings, place names, stories about the past, taonga of Moriori?. How is it different to that of Maori?.”

Finish this section with an art task where akoranga can crate a contemporary design that illustrates an ancestor of their own using a Moriori style of art (based on what they have seen on Rākau Momori and in the marae). Could use digital tools such as Kleki, Sketchpad, Pixilart etc

Download, print off and display around the classroom alongside earlier works.

Construction Sets

Divide the class into two halves (digital and tactile)

Digital Group: Split into 2 again.

Tangata-whenua  uses a platform such as Minecraft, Minetest, Blocksworld or Roblox to build a model of Urenui Pa which is the marae for Ngati Mutunga O Taranaki  .

T’chakat Henu uses the same platforms to build a model of Kōpinga Marae. You will find information about Kōpinga at the following web locations;

Wero / Challenge: Once the digital marae complex and its surrounds have been built and is ‘operational’, you have a couple of more challenges:

1. record a tour of your marae complex. 1min 30 seconds max

2. add in audio or a visual commentary that explains the features of your marae complex: 3 minutes total

3. Add in people to your marae complex and record a powhiri in action and provide narration: 5 minutes max


Tactile Group: Split into half again.

Tangata Whenua makes a set of 2Dcharacters – men, women and children – in traditional maori costume. Use card and back them with velcro or bluetac. These will be used for a moveable wall display for re-enacting the powhiri (welcoming ceremony)

Once complete, Tangata Whenua then make a background scene of a marae including the meeting house, gates and seating for a Powhiri. These items should also be moveable. (card backing with velcro or bluetac)

T’chakat Henu to do the same for Moriori, using researched information from Michael Kings book, Moriori: A People Re-discovered, and any other sources that can be found.

Once complete, T’chakat henu then make a background scene of Kōpinga marae including the meeting house, entranceway, doorways  and seating for a Powhiri. These items should also be moveable. (card backing with velcro or bluetac)

In this challenge task, after finishing the above tasks each group scripts, choreographs, crafts, films, narrates, edits, shares and presents a 3 minute (max) video of a powhiri in action using their paper-based marae and characters.

It may be beneficial to assign roles in groups for this challenge.



(Background task)

Kaiako creates either a shared document (gdoc/ msword containing a table with 3 columns on it, or a spreadsheet gsheet / Msexcel ) or prints one off and sticks it to a wall somewhere in the classroom. On it there needs to be 3 columns, labelled as English, Maori and Moriori.

The idea is for akoranga to add to this word list but only as they come across words for it. They are not supposed to deliberately seek words for this list. When they make an entry, they should initial it so the kaiako knows who is participating and who isnt.

The goal is to make the list so big that it takes up several pages but can then be posted on the wall and referred to when needed.

To kick this task off, firstly go to the ‘moriori re‘ site here >>>>>> and ensuring akoranga are all off their devices, have a quiz with akoranga over what the correct translation might be for random words that you have pre-selected (so you know that you have ones that are in the database)

Then either

a) go to the vocabulary page and get akoranga to ‘help’ you complete the table, or..

b) print the table off and provide it to akoranga to complete.

Extra Task: Quizlet. Have akoranga take the Moriori re quiz and see how well you score.

As a class, discuss any aspects of similarity or difference between Maori and Moriori reo and tikanga.

Discuss why these differences may exist. (Use Thinking Hats if possible.)

Clues: Time, isolation, location, expediency, just as our own language is evolving,

Marae Visit

Kaiako to organise a marae visit to nearest marae. If possible, seek a formal welcome and see if you can arrange to have an overnight stay as the experience for akoranga will be invaluable.

Before the visit:

  • Collect and record information about that marae including about the format for a powhiri
  • Learn mihimihi – Everyone should be able to recite their own mihi – even a simple format that states who they are and where they are from
  • Recap learnings from kawa lessons – discuss with akoranga what some of the rules on a Marae might be and why. Remember, circumstances such as prevailing weather may have an impact on Kawa.
  • Learn a couple of waiata



Kaiako to collect and record information from marae about the format of a powhiri

Have akoranga work in groups and research the following questions. Assign a reporter for each group and have them report back to the whole class. Compare reports and highlight overlapping areas of agreement.

  • What is the format for a powhiri?
  • What is expected of us as manuhiri
  • Do we have to sing? If so, what songs do we sing and can we sing them in english?
  • When we first get there, do we walk in and wait or do we wait outside the gates?
  • Where will the toilets be?
  • What if our shoes are  dirty?
  • How will we know when it is time to ‘walk on”?
  • Where will we sit?
  • How will we know when it is our turn to speak?
  • What will we say?
  • Can a female speak at this marae?
  • Is there any restrictions on how young a speaker can be?
  • What do we do once we have spoken?
  • How do we leave the marae?
  • How much is a koha and when do we give it to whoever we give it to?
  • Who is the leader of this marae?

Have each group create a flowchart of a powhiri using the commonly agreed actions. Share the flow charts with everyone. o that

Practise a Powhiri

Divide the class into visitors and hosts. (Manuhiri and Tangata whenua/Tchakat Henu)

  • Choose a speaker for each group and a caller. (Kai karanga)
  • Prepare seating.
  • Arrange both groups with boys at the front, girls behind.
  • Follow the procedure shown on the video.
  • Have a student video the practice.
  • Re-enact Powhiri
  • Use the wall display made in the construction section and using the cut-out moveable marae figures (with velcro or blue tac on their backs) demonstrate/re-enact parts of the powhiri.
  • View the video made of the Powhiri practice
  • Have fun

After the marae stay have a discussion about what it might have been like if it had been held at Kōpinga.

What would have been different and why?




Formative Assessment

Self evaluate


(See Assessment Schedule Sheet 6)

Conduct an Inquiry that explains what happens on a marae. (See Sheet 7)
Describe how a meeting house reflects Moriori culture and heritage.

Individual students complete sheet 2A  Moriori – Maori language differences

See Assessment Matrix Sheet 8

Adapted from a unit by Denise Gurran found at:



White Feathers movie

Useful reference: The glossary in the book:
Tauroa, H. & P. Te Marae – A Guide to Customs and Protocol Heinemann Reed.



Ministry of Education, Wellington, New Zealand (First published 1998)

Rt. Hon Helen Clark   21/01/2005   www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.aspx?DocumentID=22018


An essential part of any learning about Moriori should involve using the following book as a research tool. To date this is the only publication with either any credibility or that has the approval of the Moriori people;

Moriori: A People Re-Discovered,  by Michael King 1999