Te Wero (the challenge) by Donn Ratana Ngāi Tūhoe

On important occasions, when New Zealand Māori greet visitors, wero are the first cultural ritual undertaken by the host’s lead warrior. The warrior challenges the visitors as he advances with fierce eyes and taiaha (wooden staff) in hand. Carefully he lays down a token of greenery or plumage at the foot of the leader from the visiting party. How the token is retrieved signifies the visitor’s intention for future collaboration.

Metaphorically, the wero challenges us to critically consider our own role in perpetuating socially unjust circumstances that continue to marginalize indigenous and other minoritized peoples. Poutama Pounamu poses power-sharing solutions for becoming and belonging that are relational and culturally responsive, and have the potential to change lives for the better.