Marae do not operate by themselves. People run marae. When a kaupapa (occasion) happens whānau or iwi kainga (home people) will man the kitchen. They do the work to prepare and put food on the table. Their support is because of whakapapa. The mana of the manuhiri (visitors) is uppermost and ultimately the mana of their marae. Everyone pitches in to carry the load.
We were watching from a distance. A lone bushman was bent over his chainsaw. He tugged on the starter cord. The saw coughed. Another pull and it started, a throaty growl announcing that it was ready for business. Oddly, the noise seemed small. I felt the same. When you stand alongside the impenetrable wall of a pine forestry block, small is the right feeling.
Stories are the barometer of an organisation’s culture. If a leader wants to know the wairua (state or energy) of their organisation then listen to the stories about it. Organisations with cultures of bullying, sexism, prejudice, poor customer service or party hard attitudes fall over, lose reputations and customers.
Whaikōrero is a taonga of immense mana so it must be regarded with respect and dignity. To be the spokesperson of the iwi carries responsibilities to do it to the best of one's ability. Being the face of the people and expressing their thoughts and ideas is not a frivolous task. Respect, care and aroha are vital if the iwi is to be represented well.