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Traditional ceremonies and rituals to welcome new pēpi.

He tāonga te tamaiti – Every child is a treasure

The whakatauki in Te Pihinga 1 (page 26) refers to the precious nature of each and every pēpi.

Welcoming the new mokopuna

Everyday all over the world, precious new babies are welcomed into their whānau and their communities. Traditionally new mokopuna were welcomed with ceremonies or rites. Each had a specific purpose and took place at certain times. For example:

  • karanga were often performed to welcome pēpi into the world (te ao marama)
  • oriori to sooth the mama and pēpi after the birth
  • karakia to clense and clear the way ahead for the whānau.

Oriori, karakia or incantations may have been recited by tohunga.

Many of the rituals were to affirm that mokopuna were tapu, a gift from atua, who needed to be nurtured and treated with respect. Ceremonies would welcome pēpi, confirm their mana, and dedicate them to atua. They would take place at certain times – like when the umbilical cord was cut, separating pēpi from mama, and when the pito comes off.

Each of these ceremonies with their positive messages reinforced the connection of the child to the whānau and the whānau to the child. Adults were reminded of the mana of the child and that pepi is kept safe and secure.

Questions for whānau

Ask whānau:

  • What happens in your whānau when a new pēpi arrives?
  • Have you ever attended any type of ceremony to welcome or name a new pēpi? What happened?
  • Have you thought you might do something similar?
  • What sort of things would you want to do to welcome your pēpi into the world?
  • Maybe you’ve done something already?
  • Would you like to talk about your plans?
  • Who would you like to have with you?
  • What’s important to you that you’d like to include in the occasion?

Naming pēpi is commonly a part of the tohi or dedication rite. In Te Kākano (page 32) we read about the importance of choosing a name for pēpi.

  • What influenced you in choosing a name for pēpi?
  • What are your family names?
  • Do you know where they come from?
  • Are there stories attached to the names in your whānau?

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Kōrero mai mō tō tātou whānau – Teach me about our family. Because my brain learns best from the people who love and care about me. Korero i te reo Maori ki ahau.

Six things children need – Te hanga ao tōtika, ao haumaru - structured and secure world. Knowing that the attachment relationship pēpi has with their main carer is the foundation for all future learning and relationships.

Helpful resources for whānau