Hints and Tips

Take a look at our wharenui (meeting house) and ask your guide to explain the whakapapa shown in the carvings.


Linking people to all living things, our whakapapa can trace all the way back to the creation of the universe.

Relationships are integral to our culture and our whakapapa helps to establish interactions and relationships to be maintained and honoured throughout time.

Whakapapa are told orally in a variety of ways. A tararere is the most commonly told and it retells a single line of vertical descent from an ancestor.

Did you know?

It is through whakapapa that individuals often receive their names.

The wharenui (meeting house) is a model for whakapapa. The oldest ancestors lie at the top of the house near the tekoteko (carved statue), spreading out towards the bottom where recent lines can be traced.

Māori had no written language before the arrival of the Europeans and would recite their whakapapa, often containing hundreds of names, to ensure longevity. When the written language arrived, many began to record their whakapapa. Considered tapū (prohibited), these manuscripts would be burnt or buried when the author passed away.


Whakapapa means genealogy or shared origins and creates a line of descent from our ancestors to present day.