´No People, No Powhiri´ Generally there are two major groups of people on the marae.
a) The Tangata Whenua (The Local People)
The local people whom by genealogy and nowadays by association have a turangawaewae (situational identity) to the marae.
Their turangawaewae gives them the right to determine tikanga (procedures) on the marae, to determine functions, to define roles on the marae and to enjoy giving hospitality to others. It also prescribes their responsibilities and obligations to visitors. They have the basic task of preparing for visitors, ensuring that they are well fed and looked after and generally doing all they can to make the hui a success. They contribute to the food supplies, provide the work force for the kitchen, dining room, meeting house and grounds and welcoming visitors. The tangata whenua can be sub-divided into sub-groups based on their prescribed roles although it is true that roles can overlap.
Ko Nga Kaumatua (The Elders)
It is very difficult to know when an elder is an elder in comparison with an adult. It varies from marae to marae, some are exponents of Maoritanga, and others are exponents of the Whaikorero. In some districts where there are very few old folk, the younger group of men and women assume the role of the elders. In other areas where the number of elders are greater, the old leaders are very old and the younger ones have to wait in the "wings" during a formal welcome - whereas on other marae they could be leading the welcome. Their role is to "front" the marae, welcome the visitors, ensure that the tikanga (procedure) is strictly adhered to and generally or specifically pass on their knowledge to the young. They should be chosen by the people, and not by themselves!
Ko Nga Pakeke (The Adults)
These are the people who are the backbone of the marae. They are the ones who organise the catering, are usually the chief ringawera, and organise the setting up of the whare, the laundry work and ensure that the place is upkept.
Ko Nga Matatahi (The Young People)
Their role is to take an active part in the running of hui. Helping in the kitchen, setting the tables, waiting on the tables, clearing away and doing the dishes is a vital role. They also help with powhiri in a supportive role.
Ko Nga Tamariki (The Children)
This is the first stage in serving an apprenticeship on a marae. It is at this age, with guidance from the other three groups that the tamariki learn the boundaries of the marae.
b) The Manuhiri (Visitors)
Visitors comprise the second main division in the marae encounter situation. As visitors they take their lead from the established tikanga of the tangata whenua to avoid offending and to show reciprocally the respect that people have for one another. Recognising the reciprocal nature of the marae encounter and the costs such encounters incur, the
manuhiri make their contribution not only in respecting local patterns of behaviour but also in the form of a koha (support money given by the manuhiri to the tangata whenua).