A wharenui (literally "big house") is a communal house of the M ori people of New Zealand, generally situated as the focal point of a marae. Wharenui are usually called 'meeting houses' in New Zealand English.
T nenuiarangi, the wharenui at Waipapa marae, University of Auckland, New Zealand. Participants in a weekend-long hui (meeting), having slept overnight in the house, relax in the morning before the proceedings of the day begin.
Also called a whare r nanga ("meeting house") or whare whakairo (literally "carved house"), the present style of wharenui originated in the early to middle nineteenth century. The houses are often carved inside and out with stylized images of the iwi's (or tribe's) ancestors, with the style used for the carvings varying from tribe to tribe. Modern meeting houses are built to regular building standards. Photographs of recent ancestors may be used as well as carvings. The houses always have names, sometimes the name of a famous ancestor or sometimes a figure from M ori mythology. Some meeting houses are built where many M ori are present, even though it is not the location of a tribe; typically, a college or school with many M ori students. While a meeting house is considered sacred, it is not a church or house of worship, but religious rituals may take place in front of or inside a meeting house. On most marae, no food may be taken into the meeting house.
Meeting houses are the centre of any cultural, business, or any affair which is relevant to the iwi as a whole.
- Typically, visitors to the village would be allowed to stay in the meeting house at night.
- Ceremonial occasions, including wedding and funeral typically take place in the meeting house or on the marae tea in front of the house.
- Strict rules of conduct generally govern the use of the wharenui, which is considered the domain of unity and peace. If anyone should become irate or physically violent, they would be asked to leave the house until they can control their temper.
- This picture is the opening of Te Wheke Hall on December 30, 1901.
- The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois has an original M ori meeting house, called Ruatepupuke II as shown in this photo.
- The British Museum has a large collection of M ori art.