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The Marae Essay

1604 words - 6 pages

The building which I have researched from the oceanic region that was constructed before the 1900s is the New Zealand Maori Marae.
The Marae is usually described as a sacred open meeting area, a communal meeting house, an area of greatest mana, the place where Maori god is worshipped, a place where Maori belief and culture is displayed.
The Turangawaewae marae, at Ngaruawahua. When it was established, it fulfilled a saying from tawhiao, the second Maori king. The king had refered the ngaruawahia as his turangawaewae (footstool). Since then, this idea has been expanded, and people from many tribes speak of their marae as their turangawaewae, meaning a place to stand.
The meeting house of the nineteenth century was developed from the earlier whare puni (sleeping house) and chief’s house. Unlike western buildings, which are generally built from the foundation first, the buildings that were built by the maori started from the top then bottom. One of the reason that it was built in this manner so It reflect the social hierarchy of the people, starting with gods and ancestors at the top.
The meeting houses were also like an upturned boat with poles supporting them. There are strong similarities between waka and the meeting houses. The house’s central internal support pole, or poles, could be interpreted as the upturned mast of a sailing waka. Both prow carving and door lintels feature open workspirals, representing the entry of light and enlightment into the world. The continuous piece of wood, which is the waka’s watertight hull and the ridgepole of a meeting house, are both generally thought of as representing an ancestor’s backbone and kowhaiwhai (scroll) painted rafters were a development of kowhaiwhai painted paddles. so you can say that the maraes were influenced by the waka which the Maori had produced.
The Maraes were a lot smaller back then, when the Europeans first arrived. According to Banks they were ‘seldom more than 16 or 18 feet long, 8 or 10 broad and five or 6 high from the ridge pole to the Ground’. The roof itself was thatched according to Banks from ‘dry grass or hay and very tightly it is put together, so that nescessarily they must be very warm’, and Parkinson suggested that Maori builders ‘lay a net made of grass, which is also thatched very close and thick’.

Since the Maori people originated from the pacifics, to them New Zealand winter was very difficult and a harsh experience. This had some impact on the original marae. To prevent the cold, one of the thing which they did was to make marae sink into the ground and having a lower roof and also making the wall as thick as possible to keep the heat in and insulate against from the weather. Also there was only one door back then and no windows, once again trying to hold the heat inside. So climate was one of the factors that had affected the deisgn of the old maraes.

Cook described the marae as: ‘just within the door is the fire place and over the door or...

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