Marae are a key feature of Māori society. The marae is a place where the Māori language can be spoken, where customs can be explored and debated, and where important ceremonies, such as welcoming visitors, meeting inter-tribal obligations, or farewelling the dead can be performed. The marae is a wāhi tapu, a 'sacred place' which carries great cultural meaning.

In Te Reo Māori, the marae atea is the open space in front of the wharenui (meeting house) which was traditionally part of a Pā (village). In modern usage the phrase is often shortened to marae, and has come to include all the land and buildings associated with the marae atea. Today marae are storehouses of history, mātauranga (knowledge) and taonga (treasures). Many marae are also venues for the provision of health, education, justice and social services.

In legal terms, a marae is a meeting place registered as a reserve under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 ('The Māori Land Act'). Each marae has a group of trustees who are responsible for the operations of the marae. The Act governs the regulation of marae as reservations and sets out the responsibilities of the trustees in relation to the beneficiaries.

Traditional marae are normally owned by whānau, hapū and occasionally iwi. This means that marae are centres for whānau who connect with each other through whakapapa (genealogy). Since the mid nineteenth century, a number of urban marae have been established to serve the same purposes as traditional marae for Māori people living in urban settings. Many educational institutions have also established marae to provide a setting for their students, staff and communities. These non-traditional marae are based on kaupapa (theme) rather than whakapapa.

Further information and details of specific marae

Te Kahui Mangai 

Te Kāhui Māngai gives information on iwi identified in the Māori Fisheries Act 2004, and those iwi/hapū that have begun the process of negotiating settlement of their historical Treaty of Waitangi claims. This includes their rohe, hapū, marae, and other representative organisations.

Māori Maps

This site contains information for the principal ancestral marae across Aotearoa, numbering almost 750 marae.

Naumai Place 

Naumai place is a portal for self-managed marae websites. It includes a searchable directory and links to resources for marae.

Marae Development

For Te Puni Kōkiri, marae development is about supporting marae to be thriving, self-determining entities. Each marae is unique in size, nature and structure. Identifying marae aspirations is crucial for self-determination. These may include the aspirations of iwi, hapū and whānau Māori as well as the aspirations of marae as an entity.  Read more

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