A mihi whakatau is a formal way of respecting people by acknowledging their mana and tapu (dignity and sacredness). Mihi Whakatau is traditionally used for welcoming, introductions, openings and general purposes which take place off the marae. A mihi whakatau is a speech (or speeches) of greeting made during an official welcome to acknowledge those gathered together for a particular purpose (AUT).
Proceedings started with Kate and her whānau being called inside kindergarten by a few of our girls saying ‘haere mai, haere mai’. We were fortunate to have our mihi whakatau led by our Pou Whakarewa Tikanga Māori advisor, Roimata Macfarlane. She began proceedings with a hīmene and mihi whakapuare (opening acknowledgement), then followed by a welcome speech and mihi.
Upon Roimata finishing her welcome speech, all the tamariki, whānau and kaiako stood up and sang a waiata. We had been practising our waiata and our tamariki sang beautifully. Next it was Kate and her whānau opportunity to speak, which was also supported with a waiata.
Then all the teachers had the opportunity to introduce ourselves with our personal mihi. These speeches were once again supported with waiata ‘Tēnā koutou e hoa mā’. Proceedings were finished with hongi (nose touching), hariru (hand shake) and delicious kai.
A mihi whakatau is a meaningful welcome and helps foster a sense of belonging to a new environment. It was lovely that our mihi whakatau was so well supported by our attending families. It certainly was a wonderful occasion for everyone to welcome Kate into our kindergarten. On behalf of the teaching team I warmly welcome Kate and we all feel excited about having her join our team and look forward to our journey ahead.