A hongi is a traditional Māori greeting in New Zealand. It is done by pressing one's nose and forehead (at the same time) to another person at an encounter.

It is used at traditional meetings among Māori people and on major ceremonies and serves a similar purpose to a formal handshake in modern western culture, and indeed a hongi is often used in conjunction with one.

In the hongi, the ha (or breath of life), is exchanged and intermingled.

Through the exchange of this physical greeting, one is no longer considered manuhiri (visitor) but rather tangata whenua, one of the people of the land. For the remainder of one's stay one is obliged to share in all the duties and responsibilities of the home people. In earlier times, this may have meant bearing arms in times of war, or tending crops, such as kumara (sweet potato).

When Māori greet one another by pressing noses, the tradition of sharing the breath of life is considered to have come directly from the gods.

In Māori legend, woman was created by the gods moulding her shape out of the earth. The god Tāne (meaning male) embraced the figure and breathed into her nostrils. She then sneezed and came to life. Her name was Hineahuone (earth formed woman).

VIDEO What does the hongi mean?
A Maori elder explains the meaning of the hongi when two people touch noses in a formal Maori greeting.

At her home just north of Tuai, a small town in the mountains of the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, Dr. Rangimarie Turuki Rose Peri shares a song in her own language. Rose welcomes people from all over the world into her home to talk about ancient Maori ways and the importance of learning to understand and respect different peoples, cultures, traditions and the environment around us.

Responses to "Maori Elders explain the meaning of the Hongi and the ancient Maori traditions "

  1. Anonymous says:

    We are one with all that is; there is no separation. These themes are so common among the indigenous peoples, there must be great truth in them!

  2. Anonymous says:

    What is separation can you give me an example ?

  3. Lucia says:

    Kia ora aunti Rose,

    thank you for sharing ☼
    in Oneness we are

    Arohanui, Lucia ♥

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great stuff <3

  5. Such respect.

  6. Iri Ani says:

    To Anonymous who asks, what is separation? So difficult to answer without using clichés really, but I am feeling a need to try. It is about perspective I think. Māori (like many other indigenous people I would think) lived as part of nature. They saw the life force in everything and respected that life force. Rather than to impose on or domineer the landscapes as the Western Civilisation does, Māori saw them selves as a part of a larger picture. Their gods were Papatuenuku, the mother, the earth, the land (whenua), and Ranginui, the father, the sky, and the children of Papatuenuku and Ranginui, Tane, Tū, Tangaroa, etc. When they took a tree (rakau) to make a waka (boat) they (karakia) thanked Tane, the god of the trees. If they did not require the tree it would be left standing, it had value as a tree in itself, feeding birds, creating homes for birds who were also food, and feeding people too.

    Probably the people who lived and became part of the environment better than anyone else were the Indigenous people of Australia. They lived alone on the Australian continent for at least 40,000 years and during most of that time there were no extinctions of any Australian animals. Australian Indigenous people were the least materialistic of any people before or since. Extinctions occurred pell-mell after the colonisation of the land by the European culture. Who is really "civilised" here?

    From a Western Perspective it is all about domination, exploitation of the resources. Western Capitalism sees a tree as a thing to be made use of, an inanimate thing to cut down and sell a product from (like pencils for example) The tree is a product. A tree has no value while standing and unused. The Western mind sees that as waste. You cut it down to make a profit and you (the business) do not need that tree yourself. The Western God is apart, a separate entity from nature, in fact He tells Man to dominate Nature. And Man has done so and brought us to the edge of our survival. Kia ora.

  7. Anonymous says:



  8. Magnificent. Such sweet truths penetrate to the core of my being and I am left in awe of the grace of all that IS. Thank you.

    Oh, and as an interesting side note, in the Muslim tradition, Adam also sneezed when Allah (Source) breathed the breath of life into him.

    I love it that in yours it was a female....

  9. Unknown says:

    ESE-O{Thank You...Sincerely},for Sharing this! The Same was passed forward to myself,by my Afrikan The RePublic Of Trinidad And Tobago!
    We also Hold Each Other's:Both Hands, whilst 'Joining':-Foreheads,Noses,Breath,Prayers>>> Then,Looking Into Each Others Eyes{All Three, Smile}...Hands{Still 'joined'} Fully-extended,,,are Firmly 'Shaken'.Once.
    Of Course:Full-Embrace usually. *This "Golden-Age",demands "Truthful-Living"! "Return To The Source!" "ONE-LOVE"! ASE! ASE! ASE-O!

  10. iri Ani that was a beautiful peice you have taken the time to write. I too understand more.

  11. Lambert says:

    Beautiful and absolutely kind

  12. Unknown says:

    I visited New Zealand in the summer of 2000 and remember one of the Maori men telling me to be careful after I faltered and met his forehead twice instead of once (sort of like the kiss on both cheeks in Europe). He told me if you meet foreheads twice instead of once it is a marriage proposal. I was very young at the time (14), but now I realize he may have been teasing me. I always thought the Hongi was a beautiful way to welcome people, and loved the idea of a proposal in that way, but I would like to know if this is true. Thank you.

  13. Anonymous says:

    leafyishere has no chin idubbz is cool

  14. Unknown says:

    ok if this question is not applicable here admin please take it down, Kia Ora everyone, my question is for a book i am writing, did the Maori gods talk in Maori to there followers or some other way,i do not wish to disrespect anyone especially elders and the gods themselves

    thank you for your time G M Forgerite

  15. Anonymous says:

    I disagree with one aspect of a comment above saying that the God of Westerners called them to dominate the environment. Exactly the opposite actually, the beautiful Maori way you previously stated in the same comment is more closer to the truth of what He charged us to do. We were to tend the garden (environment) and nurture it you can see this in Genesis. Unfortunately as many people moved away from the original charges and allowed greed and hatred to enter their hearts, ideas became twisted and that hatred has lead us to the mess we are in now. It is not wise to blame God for something He did not do. Much love

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