Every year here at Waikato University a pōwhiri or official Māori welcome is held at Te Kohinga Mārama marae to welcome all new students and staff to the University. Both current staff and students were present to help bring students on to the marae with a rousing haka pōwhiri to support the stirring call of our senior Māori women followed by the meaningful and inspiring speeches of welcome from our Kaumātua Koro Rubal and senior academic Tame Roa supported by local Waikato waiata. The younger generation was there to support in all areas in front on the Marae and in the back ensuring all sides were covered.
It was awesome to see the many different faces from all across Aotearoa and the world. For a large contingent of the visitors this was their first experience of coming on to a Marae and partaking in things Māori, a great start and introduction into the distinctive culture of the University. The pōwhiri provided sustenance not only for the body but also for the mind and spirit and gave people the opportunity to partake in the traditions and protocols of Tainiui waka to ensure a steadfast journey into the world of education.
The well known proverb which was laid down by much respected Ngāti Porou leader Selwyn Parata who was there to support his daughter encapsulated the intended pursuit of excellence that all new students and staff aspire to, that is, ‘the bird who feasts on the miro berry is the master of his or her forest, the person who feasts on education is the master if his or her world’.
Pāwhiritia tēnei hei pānui i roto i Te Reo Māori.