Representing the body of a tupuna, or ancestor, the whare is built with great symbolism. An explanation of some of the parts whare named in the picture, are below.
The tekoteko at the top of the whare usually represents the ancestor, who the whare is usually named after.
The koruru under the tekoteko usually represents a direct descendant of the ancestor
The maihi coming from the sides of the tekoteko as well as the raparapa at the end of the maihi, represent the arms and fingers of the ancestor.
The amo coming down from the sides of the maihi represent the sides of the ancestor.
When you enter a whare, you are not entering an ordinary building, but the body of an ancestor, whose arms (maihi) are outstretched, ready to embrace you.The full name for the sacred courtyard in front of the meeting house is Te Maraenui-Atea-o-Tumatauenga (the larger marae of Tumatauenga, the Guardian of War). Going on to the marae means entering into an encounter situation, where challenges are met and issues are debated. All newcomers to the marae must be greeted formally by the tangata whenua (hosts), wheather in the warmth of a welcome, in the sadness of a tangihanga or even verbal battle on mutual issues. It is the place where people formally come together on a specific occasion for a specific function. It has its procedure and this is referred to below, although it may vary from iwi to iwi.