“‘Let’s All Go to the Marae’: Manākitanga (Hospitality) in Māori Disaster Management”

Authors: Zoltan Grossman*, The Evergreen State College
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Hazards and Vulnerability, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Indigenous, Native, Maori, New Zealand, disaster, emergency, hazards, resilience, Indigenous-settler relations
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Indigenous nations prepare for and respond to disasters partly by building a sense of community through structures of hospitality. The central pivot of Māori emergency planning and response is the marae, which has a strong and systematic tradition of manākitanga, or the hosting and care for others (Mead 2003), including Māori, Pākehā (European settler), and Tauiwi (recent immigrant) neighbors. Marae compounds often host large gatherings, so provide the means to provide food, shelter, and other relief in times of disaster, such as storms, floods, and earthquakes (Stephenson 2012, Lambert 2014, Kenney & Phibbs 2015). This study examines the flip side of the depiction of Indigenous communities as the first and most deeply affected victims of disasters, particularly the shocks resulting from climate change. Native nations can also show non-Native society innovative and resilient models of preparing for and responding to emergencies, in keeping with concepts of “people’s renewal” and the “resilience doctrine” (Klein 2007, Solnit 2010, Grossman 2016). Highly centralized and technocratic western society is vulnerable to catastrophes in different ways than Indigenous communities rooted in place over time. The retention of dense social networks and systems of mutual aid has enabled Indigenous societies to survive major upheavals, including the historical traumas of colonization and industrialization. The research draws from ethnographic interviews of iwi and hapū leadership and emergency planners, discussions at the Māori Leaders Climate Summit, and site visits to the South Island quake zone in Kaikoura and North Island flood zones in Edgecumbe (Bay of Plenty) and Whanganui.

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