Ahi kā – Aotea Store

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Ahi kā

Te Ao Māori has a concept called ahi kā. Ahi means fire and kā means burning. This concept explains how the presence of the iwi at home is critical for the vitality of the marae. When the iwi is on the marae, their fires are burning. Burning fires are a visual indicator of the vitality of their papakāinga, their home. The concept is used to reinforce the importance of loyalty to one's ūkaipō, the place of one's birth, or one's marae or iwi or people. 

Ahi Mahana

When people are away from the marae, you will see warm fires. Ka kite te ahi mahana. They have left the land but only temporarily. 

Ahi Teretere

When people are away from the marae for an extended period, you will see flickering flames. Ka kitea te ahi teretere. 

Ahi Mātao

When the people do not stay or return to the marae, the fires will go out. Ka weto te ahi. The people have let their fires go cold. 

Otirā, mehemea e hoki tonu ana te tāngata ki te marae, ka kitea te ahi kā.

But if the people always return to the marae, burning fires will be seen. 

The concept is sometimes translated as "continuous occupation," especially in the context of pakanga ā iwi. Continuous occupation of the whenua was a way an iwi asserted its right to stay on its land, amidst tribal skirmishes and all out fighting. 



Iwi = tribe

Papakāinga = homeland

Kāinga = home

Papa = land

Teretere = flickering

Mātaotao = cold

Mahana = warm

Pakanga ā iwi = tribal warfare

Whenua = land