Monday, August 13, 2012


Since President & Sister Kezerian have never been welcomed onto a marae since they've been here, Elder Farnes and I were able to arrange that because we are Tangata Whenua now ("we belong").  I explained this wonderful ceremony in one of my previous blogs, so I won't go into detail about it now, but this particular marae is one of two in Bridge Pa, and the land for it was donated by the Reid family, who have been strong LDS for generations.  The other marae in Bridge Pa is called the Te Aranga Marae, and we were welcomed onto that one when we went to Wiremu and Larissa Ngawaka's wedding reception.  This welcoming ceremony is called a Porwhiri (poh-fir-ee), and it's very interesting to read about if you want to "google" it.

Anyway, we arranged for this welcome to take place on 1 Aug 2012, and Sister Mary Reid (her picture is on previous blogs) made all the arrangements.  In addition to the Kezerians, we also invited Elder & Sister Richards and Elder & Sister Brazzeal, the office couple who finish their mission the end of this month.  During the ceremony, there are various speakers, and after each speaker, a song is sung.  Sister Reid told us that she had decided Elder & Sister Farnes needed to sing a Maori song.  Aauuuuuuugggghhhhh! I only sing in big crowds and definitely not in a language I don't know, but you don't tell sweet Sister Reid no, so we found a Maori friend, who has a beautiful voice, and she found a fairly simple Maori song for us to sing.  To make a long story short, our singing went well; the dear Maori friends of ours were so impressed that we would sing in Maori; and I think it let them see our gratitude for how well we've been accepted and loved by them.  If you'd like to hear the song we sang (and see the translation), go to this website:

After the welcome, there was the traditional Maori feast, and all of our guests had a wonderful time meeting these wonderful people and sharing in their traditions.
 Mangaroa Marae - Ruakawa Road - Bridge Pa
All the carvings at this marae were done by the master carver, Taka Walker (picture in previous blog)  Each marae is a little different, but there is always a ceremonial hall like this one.  Shoes must be removed, and no pictures can be taken during a ceremony. The shape of the roof is to signify extended arms offering shelter and protection, and during a ceremony, the door is always open as a gesture of welcome to those who enter.
We can take pictures of the interior of the ceremonial hall when no other activities are going on.  The walls are covered with these weavings done by the women.  In the middle is the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, and the Tree of Life.
The middle design on these weavings shows the staircase to Heaven.  Directly across each of these weavings are identical weavings, so that they mirror each other.  During a Porwhiri, there are rows of chairs set up facing each other...on one side are the Tangata Whenua, on the other side the guests, with men on the front rows and women on the back rows.  However, when a Maori dies, the family never leaves the body until it is buried, so beds are set up in this hall, lots of them, so that as many family members who desire can stay by the deceased around the clock.  The coffin sits on the floor, and everyone surrounds it.  They are in mourning, and yet death is a part of life, so even the little tots come up and sit by their "nanny" or "auntie" (whoever has passed away).

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