A Maori PhD student at Massey University hopes social networking sites don't replace the marae as a place where iwi, hapu and whanau come together.
Acushla Dee O'Carroll, of Nga Ruahinerangi and Te Atiawa descent, is studying the way social networking sites such as Facebook and Skype are reconnecting Maori with their whanau, iwi and marae.
She said Maori are starting to adapt their protocols so events such as tangihanga can be broadcast over the internet.
Ms O'Carroll said that helps people who can't attend tangi because of the travel involved, but being on the marae is still important.
She said her paper is about the importance of kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face contact) and being at hui in person.
Ms O'Carroll said her research draws on the concerns expressed by elders, who want the marae to remain an important place, where the customs and rituals of Maori culture are practised.
She said Maori need to be cautious about how they use social networking sites, but they can be used in a positive way, to encourage iwi to physically return home.