Pepeha is a way of introducing oneself. It will usually follow a set format and identifies who we are, where we're from and where we belong. Our pepeha connects us to each other and our whakapapa.

In te ao Māori, sharing your pepeha is how you introduce yourself – it identifies who you are, where you’re from and where you belong. Standing and sharing our pepeha is a common practice, especially at the start of a hui or gathering where we don’t all know each other. A pepeha is great way to make links and connect with others.

Everyone has a pepeha that links them to their ancestors. It’s like a story that connects you to your waka, your hapū and iwi. It identifies important places like your maunga, awa and marae. A pēpi and their whānau may have several pepeha that link them to their different whānau.

Teaching pēpi their pepeha through stories, photos, pictures or even singing helps them grow up feeling connected and familiar with who they are and where their people are from.

Sharing pepeha is an important part of tikanga Māori but the idea of making ourselves known to others is universal. When people meet they tell each other who they are and where they’re from. It helps us to make links with one another.

Discovering who we are

Discovering who we are and where we’re from is an important part of building our sense of belonging. It can be very significant for those who, for whatever reason, have been distanced from their whānau or tūranga waewae.

This topic may need to be broached with sensitivity, especially with whānau who don’t feel connected or have been removed from their roots.

It may take many months of searching and seeking for whānau to be able to fill in the gaps of their pepeha but this is part of the process and part of the learning. The important thing is to be able to help link whānau with their iwi and their kin.

Creating a pepeha

Use the Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 7-12 months, page 7 to start a conversation with whānau about whānau, whakapapa and whenua.

  • Do you know your pepeha?
  • Are you able to fill in any of the lines on the example below?
  • Are you interested in finding out more?
  • What about your pēpi? They have links to two sets of ancestors.
  • Is there someone in your whānau who would be able to help you?
  • Would you like to make a chart for pēpi?

Example of a simple pepeha

Ko ____________ te māunga

Ko ____________ te awa/roto/moana

Ko ____________ te waka

Ko ____________ tōku iwi

Ko ____________ tōku hapū

Nō ____________ ahau

Ko ____________ tōku ingoa

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Kōrero mai mō tō tātou whānau – Teach me about my family

Six things children need – Te ārahi me te māramatanga – Guidance and understanding

Other resources

Mihimihi and pepeha | University of Otago(external link)

Dr Hinemoa Elder – How to structure your pepeha | YouTube(external link)

Whakapapa research | The National Library of New Zealand(external link)

Helpful resources for whānau