The beautiful poetry of the Maori/Polynesian Star Compass - Atea a Rangi

What is a pepeha in Maori culture? How can I write one?

In Maori culture, people come to know you through where you are from, not what you have achieved in life. The first question a pakeha asks when they meet you is ‘what do you do?’, the first question a Maori asks is ‘Where are you from?’.

A pepeha is a form of introduction that establishes identity and heritage. In formal settings such as when you are being welcomed onto the marae, the pepeha forms part of your story told in reference to the bigger story that spans across time and generations starts a long time before you were born.

When you construct your own pepeha, you can include places that you have a strong love and connection with (this may not necessarily be the place of your birth).

What is a pepeha in Maori culture? How can I write one?

Your pepeha should also introduce you in reference to your tribe, canoe, whakapapa (genealogy) and marae (sacred meeting place). Non-Maoris can identify places that are significant to them and the country they are from as well.

Here is an infographic I created which should give you a better idea of the break down of the wording. Also here’s a video which should also help you and you can find out more at this excellent resource.

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