What is Ehara?

Ehara is a traditional Maori form of greeting in New Zealand. It is used to acknowledge and pay respect to another person. The term means “to braid” or “weave” in the Maori language, referring to the way Ehara connects people together.


Eharaoriginates from the indigenous Polynesian culture of New Zealand’s native Maori people. It was traditionally used during formal welcome ceremonies and continues today as an important part of Maori protocol.

Maori Cultural Significance

For the Maori, Ehara represents the intricate process of weaving people together through mutual respect and shared heritage. Using it shows appreciation for Maori history and values.

Modern Usage

In modern times, Ehara may be used as a greeting when being introduced, when welcoming visitors, at the start of a speech, or when showing respect. The phrase helps maintain cultural identity.

Responding to Ehara

There are various ways to politely return an Ehara greeting. Common responses include “Tēnā koe” meaning “hello to you”, “Kia ora” meaning “thank you”, or a smile and nod.

Who Uses Ehara and When?

Ehara is used in various situations by:

  • Maori individuals addressing elders and visitors
  • Government officials and dignitaries at formal events
  • Speakers opening presentations or ceremonies
  • People expressing ancestral connection during introductions
  • Teachers and students at Maori language schools
  • Performers and hosts at concerts or competitions

It shows respect and acknowledges shared heritage. Using Ehara is encouraged at:

  • Powhiri welcoming ceremonies
  • Family gatherings like birthdays, weddings
  • Major cultural events and holidays
  • Maori language classes
  • Tourist attractions involving Maori culture
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How to Greet Someone with Ehara

Here are some tips for politely greeting someone with Ehara:

Practicing the Pronunciation

The term Ehara is pronounced “eh-hah-dah” with the stress on the middle syllable. Listen to native speakers if possible.

Start with Eye Contact and a Smile

Make eye contact first and smile gently to set a warm, humble tone. This shows you are fully present.

Speak Clearly and Confidently

Enunciate the phrase audibly in a steady, calm voice. Project respect and sincerity through your tone.

Use Proper Posture

Stand tall with head held high. Avoid slouching or leaning as you greet. Hands at sides shows confidence.

Wait for A Response

Pause respectfully after the greeting to allow the listener time to return the acknowledgement.

Accept Their Reply with Grace

Receive their reply with a smile, nod or phrase to complete the exchange pleasantly.

When in Doubt, Seek Guidance

Ask a Maori speaker for pointers on proper etiquette if you are unsure at any point. No offense is meant.

Common Ehara Phrases and Translations

Here are some Ehara phrases to know:

  • Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini – My strength is not as an individual, but as a collective
  • Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari kē he toa takitini – My strength does not come from myself alone, but from many
  • Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari, he toa taki mano – My strength does not come from my own, but from thousands
  • Ehara aku toa i te toa takitahi, engari, he toa takitini – My strength is not as one, but comes from many
  • Kia hora te marino, kia whakapapa pounamu te moana, kia tere te kārohirohi i mua i tō huarahi – May the calm be widespread, may the ocean glisten as greenstone, may the shimmer of light guide you on your way

When is it Appropriate to Use Ehara?

Here are some appropriate situations to use the Ehara greeting:

Welcoming Ceremonies

Ehara is very fitting when welcoming visitors during powhiri and other cultural events.

Honorific for Elders

Using Ehara shows honor and deference when addressing Maori elders and leaders.

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Cultural Performances

At concerts, competitions, and shows celebrating Maori culture, Ehara sets the tone.

Milestone Moments

Major life events like births, weddings, funerals warrant using Ehara during gatherings.

Speeches and Presentations

Ehara can open speeches and presentations nicely when relevant to the audience.

Tourist Interactions

Staff at Maori cultural tourism sites may use Ehara to welcome guests.

Language Instruction

Teachers often have students practice Ehara during Maori language courses.

Responding Politely to an Ehara Greeting

When someone offers you an Ehara greeting, here are some ways to politely reciprocate:

  • Smile warmly and give a slight bow or nod to acknowledge the greeting.
  • Reply with “Tēnā koe” meaning “hello to you” or “greetings to you”.
  • Say “Kia ora” which means “thank you” or “best wishes”.
  • Offer another Ehara phrase, continuing the exchange.
  • Use “Tēnā kōrua” if addressing two people or “Tēnā koutou” for groups.
  • Reply informally with “Kia ora bro” for very casual situations between friends.
  • Let a pause follow your reply to allow the exchange to feel completed.
  • Avoid ignoring the greeting or simply saying a curt thank you. Participate in the ceremonial exchange.
  • Ask for clarification politely if the phrase is unfamiliar or pronunciation unclear. No offense is intended.

FAQ About Ehara

Here are answers to some common questions about Ehara:

How is Ehara different than just saying hello?

Ehara carries much deeper cultural and spiritual meaning, connecting to Maori values. It shows honor and respect beyond a simple greeting.

When is it not appropriate to use Ehara?

Avoid using Ehara in very casual, informal settings where its significance may not be properly recognized.

Can anyone say Ehara or just Maoris?

Anyone can respectfully use Ehara, but Maori words are treasured, so sincerity and discretion are encouraged.

What if I mispronounce Ehara?

Do your best with the pronunciation after listening to examples. No offense is meant by honest mistakes and efforts to honor the culture.

How do I reply to a phrase I don’t understand?

You can smile warmly, give thanks, and ask for clarification. Or, another Ehara phrase shows you honor the exchange.

Is there a shortened version for friends?

The informal phrase “Kia ora bro” can be used between Maori friends. But formal Ehara is often still preferred.

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What is the origin and meaning of Ehara?

Ehara means “to braid” or “weave” in Maori, symbolizing interconnection. It originated from indigenous Maori culture.

How to Use Ehara Respectfully as an Outsider

For non-Maori individuals wanting to respectfully incorporate Ehara:

  • Use Ehara sparingly at appropriate cultural events when you have a sincere connection to the people and setting.
  • Check if Ehara is suitable for any ceremony or tour experience where Maori will be presenting. Asking first is best.
  • Have a trusted Maori guide provide feedback on your pronunciation and etiquette. Practice humility and patience.
  • Express genuine interest in the significance and origin when you have the chance to learn from Maori.
  • Avoid assuming Ehara is appropriate for informal occasions. The depth of meaning may get lost.
  • Receive any Ehara greeting with an open heart, even if you can’t properly reciprocate. A smile and thanks suffice.
  • Consider learning other polite Maori phrases for casual situations, saving Ehara for times when customs dictate.
  • Appreciate that patience may be needed as proper use of Ehara takes dedication to understand.

Ways for Visitors to Experience and Honor Maori Traditions

Visitors to New Zealand can engage with rich Maori traditions and values through:

Cultural Tours – Book tours to experience a proper welcoming ceremony, see traditional song and dance, learn ancestral history.

Language Classes – Take beginner Maori language lessons to understand basics like greetings, phrases, pronunciations.

Museum Exhibits – Explore in-depth exhibits explaining Maori worldviews, crafts, navigation, architecture.

Performance Arts – Attend a concert of Maori music, singing, haka, poi dance. Or see a play incorporating the culture.

Local Markets – Shop for genuine Maori arts, crafts and food at markets while supporting indigenous makers.

Nature Experiences – Try activities like hiking, stargazing, sailing with Maori guides sharing heritage connected to the land.

Voluntourism – Give back through voluntourism programs benefitting Maori communities and causes.

Cuisine – Sample traditional Maori cooking methods at restaurants or cultural meals.


Ehara is a beautiful phrase that allows people to thoughtfully connect with Maori heritage. Though complex, communicating the universal value of respect through Eharaenriches cross-cultural bonds with deep meaning. With an open and patient heart, Ehara can be shared and received to weave all peoples together.