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The Coming of the Maori



Children were taught "table" manners when they began to eat with their elders. In later times, when the family ate together from a large dish, a child was reprimanded for stretching across the dish to take food not in its immediate proximity or for picking up meat or fish before commencing with a vegetable. He was told that in eating a pigeon or an eel, he must commence with the head. He was warned not to eat or spit before strangers, lest one of them be a sorcerer who would use his craft if annoyed. The etiquette of greeting and showing respect for one's elders was taught early. A frequent maternal command in my childhood was "Greet your grandparent" ("E oha ki to tipuna"), or whoever it was, and I was expected to proffer my nose for reciprocal pressure by the visiting relative. Children sat on the outskirts of public receptions and social ceremonies and learned what was expected of them when they grew up.