Pōwhiri has a long history and generates deeper meanings beyond the formal enactment of welcome. What happens when this ritual is transferred into contemporary environments, especially those beyond the traditional marae? In particular, how might the performance of this ritual as adapted to suit objectives beyond its ritual origins be seen, even so, to reconstruct and reinforce the sense of identity, communality and belonging—who we are and how we come together—that pōwhiri was evolved to engender?
In most areas, whaikōrero in pōwhiri has survived the test of time sheltered by the confines of marae, but the performance aspect of this art form has changed significantly. The impacts of Christianity, the influence of European culture and the movement of pōwhiri from outdoors to indoors have created a more subdued speaker, free of weaponry and limited body movement. In recent years there has been a renaissance among particular groups to revive past ways of performance.