Tangata ako ana i te whare, turanga ki te marae, e tau ana! (A person who is taught well in the home will stand collected on the marae.)
Tamati Waaka is a storyteller and tutor at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. He says this whakatauki applies to a person encouraged to step into the main roles carried out on the marae.
But, going further, Tamati says it is about using the marae as a stage to practise the marae traditions.
"When a manuhiri (visiting group) would come on, maybe a small school... the nannies would say 'Girl, come and do the Karanga'. And of course they never in their wildest dreams thought they would ever get up because of tikanga (protocols). But sometimes to keep the tikanga alive you have to break it. And then of course you don’t want to do that again, so you make sure that when you sat there again you were ready” - Tamati Waaka.
Self-described "millennial thinker" Professor Taiarahia Black says the saying is about connection and values.
“This is about how we develop our aspirations linked to our whanau, our marae, our hapū, we cannot do it separately.”
‘Tangata ako ana i te whare, turanga ki te marae, e tu ana' is also interpreted to mean 'A person raised well in the home will be a good person in the world'.
Today more Māori are living in urban centres and arguably less are living near their marae. According to Statistics New Zealand (June 2015) the Māori population is now over 700,000.
The increase in Māori population overseas was reflected in statistics from 2011. An estimated 130,000 Māori live in Australia, which equates to one in every six Māori.
Dr Kukutai says the is likely to be around 140,000, but adds that it’s difficult to gauge an accurate number because Māori are ‘invisible’ in official statistics.
Dr Tahu Kukutai (Te Aupouri, Waikato, Ngati Maniapoto) was the first Māori to work at The National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA). She is the lead researcher of the programme Te Pare one te tu mai nei - a broad research project about the demographic landscape of Māori here and overseas.
Dr Kukutai was born and raised in Ngaruawāhia and graduated from the University of Waikato with degrees in history and demography. The former Fulbright Scholar received her PhD from Stanford University.
“What does home mean? Can we maintain multiple homes? Because the demographic reality is Māori aren’t living in their customary places of connection and yet they still want to remain connected to those places. So it’s how to navigate what those relationships look like when you are not physically at home” - Dr Tahu Kukutai
Dr Wayne Ngata says the whakatauki is about 'homegrown' identity and the changing landscape of ‘home’ reflects the transient nature of Māori.
“We forget that Māori in the main were transitory people. You moved to where resources were. So moving to Auckland, Gold Coast or Perth or Wellington is no different from what people did in pre-European times to build a home” - Dr Wayne Ngata.
Ngahihi o te Ra Bidois moved away from his home for 20 years, and in doing became a virtual stranger on his own marae.
In the part-memoir, part self-help book Ancient Wisdom, Modern Solutions Ngahihi writes candidly about his life away from home and his eventual pathway back to Awahou Marae, Rotorua. He eventually learned te reo Māori and decided to receive a facial Tā moko.
Ngahihi believes this whakatauki is about succession planning.