This past week hasn't been my best ever. The weather has been hot and very, very humid. I don't mind a bit of heat but I don't like humidity. And I haven't been feeling myself, been a bit out of sorts really. Probably not drinking enough water.
Not being in a good frame of mind, every time I thought about this week's topic I had a brain freeze because there is no town plaza around here. Finally this morning driving to work thinking, "It's Friday. Think, girl, think", I was hit with an inspiration. Let's not quibble about what constitutes inspiration.
A polytechnic college is a community. Choosing the words that suit my purpose from Redlan's description, we have places at the polytech where crowds gather to celebrate special occasions. A small marae (maori meeting house) stands at the entrance to the polytech and it is here that people gather on special occasions.
On Monday, we had the first day of the new semester and an Orientation Day for new students. However, we knew there would be more people than the marae can accommodate so an area was set up in the car park for the powhiri (welcoming ceremony) and that area became, to all intents and purposes, the marae.
I'm not going to try to explain the protocols because they are quite complicated. Just share with you a series of photos taken at the powhiri. Above, the karanga, a unique form of female oratory, in which the high pitched voices of women from both sides call to each other to exchange information to begin to establish intent and the purpose of the visit.
The crowd comes slowly forward
Whaikōrero or formal speech making follows the karanga:
A waiata or song is sung after each whaikōrero by the group the orator represents. It is common to hear traditional waiata during pōwhiri. Above is the tangata whenua (home people). Below gathered opposite them, and a little apart, are the new students.
After all the speech making is done with, the visitors come forward across the space separating the two groups to shake hands and hongi with the tangata whenua (home people). The traditional hongi, the pressing of noses, signifies the mingling together of the sacred breath of life, and the two sides become one. In this case, the new students and the polytech. However, most Maori elders will greet their visitors in a manner that the visitor feels comfortable with.The sharing of food signifies the end of the powhiri.
Then, if you are a student and don't have a class, you can lay under a tree and contemplate your future. Staff, like me, had to go back to work!
I'm happy now. So, we don't have a town plaza! We do have our own unique gathering places. To check out other's photos just visit here.