The Tui’s Speech of Welcome-a poem for Matariki

Mānawatia a Matariki. I post this poem in honour of “Matariki Day.” June 24th 2022 is the first official annual Aotearoa New Zealand holiday to be given in recognition of the Māori New Year; Matariki; a time where people, whānau, and communities gather together to remember the year that has passed, to celebrate the present, and to plan for the next year.

Many years ago tuis, who as well as giving us incredible bursts of song are known for being clever mimics and have been taught to speak, were sometimes used to give the welcome speech to guests entering the Marae. See below.

The Tui’s Welcome

Ko Tu Koe?
Ko Rongo koe?
Ko te manuwhiri.
Nau mai!
Moemoetia mai te kuri.
Haere mai te manuwhiri!
No runga te manuwhiri?
No raro te manuwhiri?
No te ti?
No te ta?
No waka i–o–i?
Tupu wananga!
Ki Hawaiki!
E roro!
Ki–tahi! Ka tu ke! He!
Ko wai–wai?
Ka kore–kore te toki!
Te Whare–pa–tahi!
Te Whare–pa–rua!
Te huia te rangiora.
E roro ki waho.
Ko Tu koe?
Ko Rongo koe?
Ko tenei te manuwhiri!
Nau mai!
Kahore te kai i te kainga.
E Rongo!
E Rongo!
E Rongo! Maru! Awa!
He aha te tai?
Ka timu te tai.
Nga tai o te tu!
Ko waka rara.
No tau na.
Ma nga wai
E tari taua.
E tai.
Homai te wai.
Ka hi te kai.
Ka whakarere te kai.
E kai!
Ari nui!
Ari roa!
Ari manawa–nawa!
E Titi–rau–ma–ewa!
E to kai moana!
E roro ki waho!

English Translation

Art thou Tu?
Art thou Rongo?
It is the guest.
Sleep with the dog.
Welcome to the guest!
From the south is the guest?
From the north is the guest?
From somewhere?
From anywhere?
Perhaps he has come by canoe?
Ah! They speak now in oracles!
About Hawaiki!
What wonderful lore and knowledge!
An apt proverb! It stands apart! O joy!
Who can he be who is speaking?
Speak on!
What a tongue to be sure!
Te Whare–pa–tahi!

A second Te Whare–pa–tahi!
A recital of the divine history of man.
Impart thy lore to me.
Art thou Tu?
Art thou Rongo?
This is the guest!
There is no food in the village.
E Rongo!
E Rongo!
E Rongo! Maru! Awa!
How fareth the tide?
The tide is ebbing.
Tides which provide abundance of food!
Yonder are the canoes.
Which secure food during the year round.
The waters
Bear us two along.
O tide.
Give us of your waters.
We fish the foods.
Abundantly, even to wasting it.
Eat of it then!
It is plenteous!
It is lasting!
It causes anxiety.
Thanks to the female sea deity!
Thanks for thy sea–foods!
Impart thy lore to me!

From Sir George Grey’s Poetry of New Zealanders.

Comment From Helen: I found this poem on a truly excellent website called New Zealand Birds. Many thanks to Narena Olliver for permission to use it. This beautiful site contains an incredible amount of information. You will want to revisit it many times.

I had gone there in search of information on tui behaviour, after  a pair of local tuis, flying fast and beak to tail, had some fun with me in my garden, appearing over a high fence and swooping down to where I stood, they skimmed across my lower back so close, they were just touching me…an amazing aeronautical feat in itself and a special experience. Like a sort of bird hug. For more information on the tui go here.

I think many New Zealanders are hopeful that not only is this a celebration of the Maori New Year, of Matariki, but a whole new beginning in our New Zealand way of life; a new recognition of the commonalities between cultures; of the values that matter to us all. Below are the values which Matariki speaks to.

Aroha – Love and respect for one another
Whakamaumaharatanga – Remembrance
Kotahitanga – Unity
Manaakitanga – Caring
Tohatoha – Sharing
Mana Taiao – Environmental awareness
Kaihaukai – Feasting
Wānanga – Discussion
Noho tahi – Coming together
Ngākau Atawhai – Kindness
Whakanui – Celebrations
Tuakiritanga – Identity

List of websites which explain aspects of Matariki such as the stars for which it is named, the creation of Matariki Day and the Maori New Year.

How to greet others at Matariki…Hemi Kelly explains

Radio New Zealand News

Museum of New Zealand -Te Papa Tongarewa

Values for Matariki Celebrations

watch a video on how to find the stars of Matariki here

And for some fascinating reading on the the Pleiades as Matariki stars are known elsewhere go here

I hope you have enjoyed this page, and learned something about this special time for Aotearoa…Matariki and the Maori New Year. A time of hope.  Arohanui Helen.