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Karakia

What are karakia?

Karakia are prayers or incantations. They are generally used to ensure a favourable outcome to important events and undertakings such as tangihanga (the ritual of farewell to our deceased), hui (meetings), unveilings etc., however they can cover every aspect of life. For example: welcoming the dawn and farewelling the day, to ensure a safe journey, for different types of illness, when undertaking tā moko (tribal ‘tatoo’), when carving wharenui (meeting houses) or waka (traditional canoe), and more. Karakia, in their true essence, are ritual chants invoking spiritual guidance and protection.

With the introduction of Christianity to New Zealand in the 19th Century, new karakia were written to acknowledge the Christian God and Jesus Christ. These karakia have been used since that time, however there is a current move towards using our more traditional karakia (which were often chanted or ‘sung’), which call upon many of our Atua (Gods/guardians) for direction; these karakia are poetic and full of beautiful imagery and metaphor. It is important however to remember that there are not always appropriate English words which can fully reflect the essence of the Māori words used; often literal translations need to be considered metaphorically.

Where possible, we have included examples of both Christian and traditional karakia (in shaded boxes) for the following occasions, to:

  1. Start a meeting (karakia timatanga)
  2. Close a meeting (karakia whakamutunga)
  3. Bless food (karakia mō te kai)

Karakia Timatanga – To open a meeting

Christian Karakia

{audio link}http://maori.otago.ac.nz/audio/1-Christian-Karakia-Janine.mp3{/audio}

He hōnore, he korōria ki te Atua
He maungārongo ki te whenua
He whakaaro pai ki ngā tāngata katoa
Hangā e te Atua he ngākau hou
Ki roto, ki tēnā, ki tēnā o mātou
Whakatōngia to wairua tapu
Hei awhina, hei tohutohu i a mātou
Hei ako hoki i ngā mahi mō tēnei rā

Amine

Honour and glory to God
Peace on Earth
Goodwill to all people
Lord, develop a new heart
Inside all of us
Instil in us your sacred spirit
Help us, guide us
In all the things we need to learn today
Amen 

Traditional Karakia

Whakataka te hau ki te uru
Whakataka te hau ki te tonga
Kia mākinakina ki uta
Kia mātaratara ki tai
E hī ake ana te atakura
He tio, he huka, he hau hū
Tīhei mauri ora!

Cease the winds from the west
Cease the winds from the south
Let the breeze blow over the land
Let the breeze blow over the ocean
Let the red-tipped dawn come with a sharpened air. 
A touch of frost, a promise of a glorious day.

 

Tukua te wairua kia rere ki ngā taumata
Hai ārahi i ā tātou mahi
Me tā tātou whai i ngā tikanga a rātou mā
Kia mau kia ita
Kia kore ai e ngaro
Kia pupuri
Kia whakamaua
Kia tina! TINA! Hui e! TĀIKI E!


Allow one’s spirit to exercise its potential
To guide us in our work as well as in our pursuit of our ancestral traditions
Take hold and preserve it
Ensure it is never lost
Hold fast.
Secure it.
Draw together! Affirm!


Karakia Whakamutunga – To close a meeting

Christian Karakia
(2 Corinthians, 13:14)

Kia tau ki a tātou katoa
Te atawhai o tō tātou Ariki, a Ihu Karaiti
Me te aroha o te Atua
Me te whiwhingatahitanga
Ki te wairua tapu
Ake, ake, ake
Amine

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God, 
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all
Forever and ever
Amen

Traditional Karakia

Unuhia, unuhia
Unuhia ki te uru tapu nui
Kia wātea, kia māmā, te ngākau, te tinana, te wairua i te ara takatā
Koia rā e Rongo, whakairia ake ki runga
Kia tina! TINA! Hui e! TĀIKI E!

Draw on, draw on,
Draw on the supreme sacredness
To clear, to free the heart, the body and the spirit of mankind
Rongo, suspended high above us (i.e. in ‘heaven’)
Draw together! Affirm!


Karakia mō te kai – To bless food

Christian Karakia

E te Atua
Whakapainga ēnei kai
Hei oranga mō ō mātou tinana
Whāngaia hoki ō mātou wairua ki te taro o te ora
Ko Ihu Karaiti tō mātou Ariki
Ake, ake, ake
Amine

Lord God
Bless this food
For the goodness of our bodies
Feeding our spiritual needs also with the bread of life
Jesus Christ, our Lord
Forever and ever
Amen

Traditional Karakia

Nau mai e ngā hua
o te wao
o te ngakina
o te wai tai
o te wai Māori
Nā Tane
Nā Rongo
Nā Tangaroa
Nā Maru
Ko Ranginui e tū iho nei
Ko Papatūānuku e takoto nei
Tuturu whakamaua
Kia tina! TINA! Hui e! TĀIKI E! I

Welcome the gifts of food
from the sacred forests
from the cultivated gardens
from the sea
from the fresh waters
The food of Tane
of Rongo
of Tangaroa
of Maru
I acknowledge Ranginui who is above me, Papatuanuku who lies beneath me
Let this be my commitment to all!
Draw together! Affirm!