Te whare runanga = The house of learning : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Maori Studies at Massey University

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Massey University
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The title of "whare runanga" has been chosen from the many names given to the Maori meeting house to emphasis the aspects of learning and the retaining of knowledge within and around the building. Most accounts of pre-European whare runanga have been written by early European who were greatly influences by the intellectual thinking of their time. Non-Maori writing about Maori will always fall short of an accurate interpretation of the concepts and traditions of Maori because the two cultures have developed from different value systems and paradigms. As a result, in the early accounts there is no linkage made between the whare and its cultural practices and the cosmological or spiritual beliefs practiced by Maori. The whare runanga as we know it today is recent development combining elements of the pre-contact chiefs house and the guest-house. This building is the focal point of Maori tribal, ancestral, chiefly, and spiritual values. The whare's structure and ornamentation are very much influenced by the Maori cosmological philosophy and as such is a prominent link to Maori ancestry and atua. This explanation stems from the celestial origin of the whare with its kawa and symbolism. This thesis explores the symbolism associated with the whare and the role it plays in the preservation of genealogy and cosmological lore. It analyses the protocols and processes carried out as part of the function from within a matauranga Maori context.
Whare runanga, Architecture and cosmology, Symbolism in architecture, Maori architecture, Maori meeting house, Māori Master's Thesis