Ko te waihanga me nga wehewehenga o te whaikorero: The structural system of whaikorero and its components
Prior to European colonisation, the Māori people of New Zealand used whaikōrero1 (oration) as the primary medium for expressing opinion; presenting topics for discussion; and enabling decision-making regarding all matters affecting living arrangements and work, including decisions concerning daily, monthly and annual activities critical to the safekeeping of the people. While Cleve Barlow defines whaikōrero as the “greetings expressed by elders on marae courtyards during assemblies of people,” this is an inadequate description of whaikōrero in that it does not take into account many of its functions and its vagaries. In the 21st century, whaikōrero remains a system pivotal to the operation of Māori culture yet like any system, it is affected by the changing context. This article examines systemic limitations to whaikōrero and how these are manifested duly or unduly within contemporary Māori oration practices. Through several interpretations of whaikōrero provided by a number of kaumātua (Māori elder/s) , this article will discuss the systemic structure of whaikōrero and its components, specifically regarding the system of whaikōrero that occurs during the formal rituals of encounter between tangata whenua (hosts) and manuhiri (visitors); that is, the system of whaikōrero followed by kaikōrero tangata whenua (or the oration of host speakers) and kaikōrero manuhiri (the oration of visiting speakers).
Keywords: oratory; whaikorero; tauparapara; kaikorero; standardisation; Maori culture
Research Type: Journal Article