• Philippa Thomas

Incorporating Te Reo, Tikanga Māori into your wedding ceremony

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Kō te mea nui kō te aroha. The greatest thing is love. Kia ora koutou, nau mai, haere mai! Hello and welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand, land of the long white cloud.

Choosing to get married in and around Lake Wānaka and Queenstown, at the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand can seem like a no-brainer, as the scenery is unlike anywhere else in the world. Whether you are a Lord of the Rings fan, keen on snow sports, or just want to get away, there is something here for every couple.

Increasingly, couples are choosing to incorporate some Māori culture into their weddings here in New Zealand, as a sign of respect both for the whenua (land) that they are choosing to marry on, and also for the tāngata (people) for whom this land belongs.

Māori people are indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand, having arrived from eastern

Polynesia sometime between 1320 and 1350 AD. Much of tikanga Māori (Māori culture, customs) has been carried through generations and plays a large role in many Kiwi households today.

Simple things, such as not sitting on tables where food is prepared or eaten, are taught from a very young age, and basic Te Reo (language) is a big part of the curriculum in schools.

Many Māori place names are derived from the land, as in the pre-settlement days there was no written word so Māori people were identified by where they lived and who their tūpuna (ancestors) were. Wānaka derives from the South Island pronunciation of the word Wananga, meaning “place of learning”.Lake Wakatipu, where Queenstown sits, is from the name Whakatipu wai-māori, which means “growing bay” or “bay of spirits”.

Most importantly, as a people Māori are welcoming to anyone who chooses to embrace our culture, whether that be by reading some history of the area, learning basic Te Reo (language) or allowing the language to be spoken during your wedding ceremony.

You’ll even notice when you get married in Aotearoa New Zealand that your marriage licence has parts written in Māori, and you can in fact have an entire ceremony in Te Reo if you choose, as Māori is one of three official languages here (along with English and New Zealand Sign Language)!

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