Sitting down together


Photo:
Christopher J. Philipp
Once the day’s formalities on the marae are completed, both hosts and visitors should sit down together and share a communal meal.

The meal itself need not be overly formal or elaborate.  It might be as simple as coffee, tea, and cookies; or it could be as fancy as a multicourse banquet.

After the meal, everybody attending the encounter — including the cooks in the kitchen! — should reassemble on the marae as one community so that everyone who so wishes may say a few words about themselves as individuals and community members, their thoughts about the encounter, and their own hopes for the future. 

What is said need not be governed by many rules except the usual ones of civility and good humor.

One key thought to remember is that by the very act and fact of participating in the marae encounter, all those who may have begun the day as strangers to one another are now rightfully “of one community,” not two. 

Seating on the marae after the meal, therefore, should reflect this transformation.  For instance, the chairs or benches should be rearranged in a circle, say, not in rows on either side of a vacant space.