Pepeha is a way of introducing oneself. Using a set structure it identifies who we are, where we’re from and where we belong. Pepeha is used in a Māori context and has a formal basis, but the idea is universal.
Everyone has a pepeha which links them to their ancestors. It’s like a story that connects you to your waka, your hapū and iwi. It identifies important places like your maunga, awa and marae. A pēpi and their whānau may have several pepeha that link them to their different whānau. Teaching pēpi through stories, photos, pictures or even singing their pepeha helps them grow up feeling connected and familiar with who they are and where their people are from.
In a Māori context standing and sharing our pepeha is common practice. When it’s appropriate, especially at the start of a hui or gathering where we don’t all know each other, a pepeha is great way to make links and connect with others.
Discovering who we are and where we’re from is an important part of building our sense of identity and belonging. It can be very significant for those, who for whatever reason, have become distanced from their whānau or tūranga waewae.