Whakapapa and making an introduction

If you haven’t worked with Maori culture before, have a look at this introduction page first to learn some basic concepts.

Whakapapa is an important Maori concept. When a Maori person is reciting their whakapapa, they are telling the names of their ancestors and their lineage. The recital also will establish which iwi the person belongs to, and the geographical area they come from. The whakapapa also can show how all creatures in the world interconnect with one another. The recital can include elements such as animals or plants that grow in the area the person is from. These types of whakapapa don´t describe lineage as much as a spiritual connection to the whole ecosystem.

Reciting the whakapapa can be part of an official introduction when, for example, visiting a marae. This formal speech of introduction is called a mihi or a pepeha (a shorter version of a mihi). Pakeha, non-Maori people, can also perform a pepeha at formal occasions, but theirs will be a lot shorter than a Maori mihi, as they do not have the same connections to the land.

Here is an example of an online mihihttp://mihimihi.maori.geek.nz

On this page, you can see a mihi as given by some who is Pakehahttps://realruth.wordpress.com/2006/06/04/mihimihi/


  1. Can you present yourself giving your mihi?
  • Say which geographical features (mountains, rivers, etc.) there are in the area your family is from.
  • Say which group of people you come from.
  • Say which particular tribe/family you are from.
  • Say which place you are from.
  • Say who you ancestors are (as far back as you can).
  • Say what your name is.
  • Send greetings to the listeners.

2. Why do you think reciting your whakapapa is an important part of an introduction? What benefits can there be both for the person reciting and the people listening?

3. a. In your community, when someone new arrives, how are introductions done? What should the new arrival do and say to be accepted into the community?

b. Write a guide on how to be accepted into your community for someone who has never been there before.

Further work:

To find out more about whakapapa, read this personal reflection on what whakapapa is and what it means to the author:


This website gives more detailed information on whakapapa:


For more information on the history of the Maori language: