Some important pre-conference information
ISIH 2024 just 20 days from now
Thanks to you all for your help in co-constructing the conference programme so far. It’s complete, barring a few final edits, and Angie’s been doing sterling work copy editing the abstracts ready for the conference handbook. Once everything is finished and up online I’ll let you know.
I’ve been putting the finishing touches on the conference opening which, in Aotearoa New Zealand, has a particular significance. And there’s a bit of work for you to do in preparation. More on this below.
Our conference begins at 10am on Tuesday 13th February with a pōwhiri, or formal welcome. The purpose of the pōwhiri is to welcome you in a culturally safe way, to assert Māori identity and indigeneity, and to build connections. It’s a deeply spiritual occasion and has a number of important steps and stages.
Ours begins with a karanga, or call, from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, the tangata whenua (people of the land) on whose land and sea Tāmaki Makau Rau Auckland and Te Wānanga Aronui ō Tāmaki Makau Rau AUT University are built.
When everyone is in place, the karanga is followed by ngā whaikōrero, or speeches, from our hosts, which are followed in turn by waiata, or songs, that give weight to the orators’ words.
The Dean of our Faculty, Professor Brett Cowan, will then respond with his own whaikōrero on behalf of us the manuhiri (guests or visitors). We will then support Brett with our own waiata. And this is where you come in.
We’re going to sing a waiata that holds particular significance for our conference. It’s called Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi, or ‘Line up together, people’.
It’s an easy song to learn, so we’d like you to all to try to join in. We’ll be supported by the AUT Choir as well, to give Brett’s whaikōrero extra weight.
Here are a couple of videos of the song being performed. The first gives the Māori word, the second shows the text in translation.
After our waiata, it’s traditional for the visitors to hongi (to make first physical contact).
We’ve decided this would be impractical for all 120 of us to do this, plus the hongi is about sharing the hā/breath/life force with the other person, so may be problematic given our strict policy on COVID mitigation. So, with your permission, your representatives will hongi with the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei representatives in your stead.
After the hongi, I get to formally open the conference and deal with a few housekeeping matters, before we break for the final part of the pōwhiri process — kai whakanoa, or food eaten to move us from a state of tapu — the sacred state of our first meeting — to a state of noa or commonality.
That ends the pōwhiri process and, in doing so, ensures that we are brought carefully and thoughtfully together for the next three days.
I’ve attached an expanded explanation if you’d like to know more about the stages of a pōwhiri.
See you in a couple of weeks.