Greeting one another

Photo: Sara Hamdan

After the exchange of formal marae speeches
is done, those on the visitors' side should cross over the ceremonial "no-man's land" of the marae to be greeted individually by those in the host community, or by their designated representatives.

A common gesture of greeting among the Maori of Aotearoa New Zealand is the hongi where the ha, or breath of life, is exchanged. The hongi is often done by grasping the right shoulder of the person you are greeting with your left hand, grasping their right hand in a handshake (hariru) with your other hand, and gently pressing the bridge of your nose against their nose, often while closing your eyes as you do so.

In some communities, the nose is pressed once, in others, twice, and in yet others, both sides of the nose rather than the bridge are pressed. The hongi may also be followed up with a kiss.

However, individuals who are not well acquainted with one another may do little more than rather quickly bump noses. In contrast, those who have not seen one another for ages may stand nose-to-nose for some time, as if transfixed.

Hugging or just shaking hands is also acceptable