Kawa of the Marae

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: Lots of cross-curricular integration involved.  Also very good unit for those learners that have never been on a marae before.



In this unit akoranga will learn about:

  • society and communities and how they function,
  • the diverse cultures and identities of people within those communities
  • about the impact of these identities on the participation of groups and individuals.  

Social Inquiry:

Through social inquiry, akoranga ask questions, gather information, and examine the background to important societal ideas and events, explore and analyse values and perspectives relating to these ideas and events; and develop understandings about issues and the ways that people (themselves and others) make decisions and participate in social action. 
Through this process, and in a range of settings, students will understand  that;

  • cultural practices vary but reflect similar purposes,
  • people remember and record the past in different ways;

Additional Curriculum areas


  •  Viewing: Purposes and Audiences:
  •   Presenting: Purposes and Audiences:

Specific Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit,students will be able to:

  • Describe how a marae reflects Maori culture and heritage.
  • Describe how Kopinga Marae is for Moriori and how it reflects Moriori culture and heritage.
  • Explain what happens on a Maori marae.
  • Explain what happens on a Moriori marae.
  • Conduct an Inquiry.
  • Construct a multi-media presentation that illustrates their ability to use verbal and visual features to communicate ideas about marae protocol.

Setting: Rekohu
Perspective: A lens into Moriori Kawa
Key Competencies Focus: Participating and Contributing / Relating to others

Teaching and Learning Activities

Introduce the unit title “Marae Kawa”, and discuss its meaning.

  • What is a marae?
  • What is the purpose of marae?
  • Who can go to a marae?
  • What do you think you can or can’t do at a marae?
  • Ask akoranga who of them has been to a marae and why were they there?
  • What things did you notice about the marae buildings? What was unique about them?

Get students into groups and have them record (mindmaps, whiteboard, large sheets of paper, iPad) their understandings of marae around the concepts of;

  • language
  • culture
  • traditions
  • food
  • dance and or music
  • artworks, patterns and designs
  • buildings
  • ancestors and stories of the past
  • taonga
  • place names

Have an art session where visual akoranga get the opportunity to express their current knowledge about these aspects

Have each group create one collaborative image about one aspect. Display these. 

Moriori Marae:

Class discussion about these terms. (Perhaps is akoranga Google the following terms: Moriori, Kopinga marae, Chatham Islands

Then show akoranga the following pages:

Have akoranga spend 20 minutes playing detective searching for everything they can find about Kopinga Marae.

Could be split into teams or groups, with points awarded for each item of interest that they find about Kopinga. 

Come together as a class and share. Bullet point on whiteboard or use Web tools to collaboratively create a mindmap of Kopinga  Marae

Group work – hands on

Kaiako chooses or directs groups to participate in a selection of the following activities:

  • Using a free variant of minecraft, create a model of Te Tii Marae at Waitangi (Northland) (Links to Te Tii Marae information here >>>>>)
  • Using a free variant of minecraft create a model of  Kopinga Marae.
  • Using lino tools and customwood panels ‘carve’ decorative panels for the classroom  (This is a series of lessons in itself (See: Hokoairo )
  • Make a set of characters for a marae scene/diorama:  men, women and children – in traditional Maori costume/or traditional moriori costume
  • Using 3d Floorplanner (or similar) make a 3d model of a maori marae including the meeting house, gates and seating for a  Powhiri. Film a 3d walkthrough of the model marae.
  • Using 3d Floorplanner (or similar) make a 3d model of Kopinga Marae, including the entranceway, meeting house, inner marae and seating for a powhiri. Film a 3d walkthrough of the model Kopinga.



Kaiako to create a google sheet (and share it with each akoranga) with the following 4 columns:

Re      Reo     English    Meaning

Student contribute to this as you build up an awareness of the vocab, the subtle differences between re and reo and the meanings of each word.

Make these words common usage in your classroom  

Fast Talking game:  Provide groups of akoranga with a printed copy of the table from the vocabulary page (here) and without access to any technology,  get them to race to fill it in.

Swap papers with groups and get them to mark each others answers

Points awarded for each correct answer.

You could provide akoranga with a link to the vocabulary page (here) .

Class discussion

Talk about culture and heritage. What is it?

Culture: Understandings, patterns of behaviour, practices, and values shared by a group of people.

Heritage: Ideas, material goods, or other resources that are the right of a person or groups of people by birth and are often passed down through the generations. 

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.)   

List these using shared documents and then discuss the possible reasons for each.     

Marae Visit:

If possible, arrange a visit to a local Maori marae. 

Collect and record information

Before the visit: Student preparation – Discuss what some of the rules on a Marae might be and why.

Students to record these.


Marae Kawa
Revisit the kawa items mentioned at the bottom of the Kopinga Marae page here >>>

Talk about ways those rules are similar and different to rules at school.

Record information as drawings and notes.

Discuss whether kawa is immovable.

Could weather make a difference to the rules? Storms, lightning, strong gales?

How would it change the rules?

What possible alternatives might be used?


Introduce the reo names of the two groups involved in a Marae visit Manuhiri (visitors) and Tangata whenua (hosts). Also discuss the Moriori variations to these titles (Manuwiri and Tchakat Henu)

Possible reasons for these variations? Discuss other variations between words in Te reo and Moriori reo.

As a class, forge some questions to ask at your marae visit.

Prepare questions to ask about marae protocol during the marae visit, using ‘where, when, who, why, what and how’ sentence starters.
Prepare questions to find out how the meeting house reflects Maori culture and heritage (you could encourage questions about the design, stories, ancestors, traditions).

Practise mihi (separate lesson) 
Practise a Powhiri

Read these pages

And show these youtube vidoes

Paora Trim



Powhiri process

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.
Video tape the practice.

Re-enact Powhiri
Create a diorama using the marae figures made earlier. Use this to demonstrate/re-enact parts of the powhiri.     

View video made of the Powhiri practice

Formative Assessment

  • Self evaluate  – Plan improvements for a further practice.

Focus for your marae visit:        

What happens on a marae?

How does the meeting house reflect Maori / Moriori culture and heritage?  

During the visit

  •  Participate in the Powhiri.
  • Ask questions and record replies.
  • Participate in food preparation, eating, cleaning up if so organised.
  • Collect and record information using the video and digital cameras (Ask for permission first)

SORT INFORMATION After the visit
Sort the information for a  presentation – “What Happens on a Marae?”.

Prepare a brief oral presentation to describe how the meeting house reflects Maori / Moriori culture and heritage. Give two examples and use models as part of the presentation. Practice the oral presentation in small groups.    (THis is not a formal SPEECH)


Discuss ways to show appreciation and carry these out:

Letters or cards.
Photos of models.
Invitation to visit and view models and presentations.

Show the presentations and make oral presentations to:

Your class
Other classes
The Maori / Moriori community involved

Inquiry process:

There must be evidence that the akoranga has:

  • Asked questions to focus their inquiry into what happens on a marae.
  • Collected and recorded information by taking notes from a video, online sources and the marae visit.
  • Sorted information including digital photographs, clipart and notes
  • Included a generalisation about what happens on a marae in their presentation.
  • Participated meaningfully in the marae visit and all activities 
  • Completed their presentations and responded to questions.



Suggested Resources

White Feathers movie

Tauroa, H. & P. Te Marae – A Guide to Customs and Protocol Heinemann Reed.

New Zealand History

New Zealand Herald Stories

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

Rt. Hon Helen Clark’s Speech   21/01/2005  

Press releases

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

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