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Adapting tikanga

Taipari Munro explains the influence of Christianity on Māori society in Te Taitokerau, and how/why Māori adapted traditional practices as a result.


When the Pākehā first came to this country, the missionaries came with them. They came here as teachers, as doctors, as people who helped the iwi. At that time, war was raging all over the country. The aggressors were our people of Ngā Puhi. An end was put to war, because Ngā Puhi was tired of endless fighting. They turned to the missionaries for a better life. They were influenced by the teachings of the missionaries who said, “Your saviour is Jesus Christ, the one who died on the cross in order to pay for the sins of this world.” At that point, they thought they should leave behind the ways of Tūmatauenga, the god of war, and enter the realm of Rongomaraeroa, the god of peace. The pōwhiri used to be held out on the marae of Tūmatauenga, or his other name, Tūkariri, and indeed there one would see the spirit of Tūkariri. That is why they brought the conduct of the rituals of welcome from the marae outside into the meeting house, into the domain of Rongomaraeroa, the god of peace. The main force would be love. When the manuhiri come into the house, once they have finished weeping for the dead, they go and shake hands with all of the people in the house first, before the start of the speeches.