Gathering at the gate, my heart started racing. It was time, ‘Haere mai, haere mai,’ echoed through the marae atea and deep into my soul. With hands gently shaking at my side, taking a huge breath, I launched into my reply, ‘Karanga mai, karanga mai, karanga mai ra’. My quivering voice fulled the empty space between our roopu(group) and Tumanako, the wharenui who was waiting for our meeting. I thought to myself,’You could feel the wairua of the marae awaken and move like an electric current in a circuit’. We inched our way into Tumanako, whose arms were wide open to embrace us.
A roaring haka powhiri exploded from within Tumanako, drawing us deeper into the whare. We were greeted by the tamariki of both the Kohanga Reo and a class, Kura Rea from the Primary school, but also by the enchanting whakairo and intricate tukutuku patterns that adorned the marae walls. They too, had been waiting for our arrival.
During the whaikorero, our tamariki sat in wonder of the beauty that surrounded them. Sitting in awe, waiting for Mr Waller to break into his reply, his mihi of thanks to the tangata whenua.
Mr Waller came to the end of his humble speech, ‘Mihi mai, mihi mai, mihi tonu mai.’ Our group arose with strong voices, ‘E toru nga mea…’. Within seconds, our powhiri ceremony was concluded.
Mr Paora Sharples gave instructions followed by Ngadia who ran through our safety procedures which led us to our first break, morning tea or our hakari.
This was an amazing first experience for us all, including myself, completing a karanga for the first time. An experience I will never forget!
Na Mrs Karaka