One of the first things you should know when studying your whakapapa is a simple mihi. This is a quick introduction of yourself and it is traditionally used when giving a formal speech at a gathering of relatives or guests. in the old days, your genealogy was very important in that it was proof of your authenticity. This was important because it gave you specific rights to ancestral hunting and fishing grounds, properties, and other such things. It could also prevent you from being killed and eaten...it wasn't good to eat relatives. For example, one of our ancestors was the son of a chief who, when visiting a tribe, left behind a son when he left to return to his own territory. Many years later he came back with a big force to conquer that village (conquering in those days usually meant total annihiation), but his son, now a grown man, used his mihi to identify himself as the would be conquerer's blood son. Of course, a tearful reuinion ensued and the village and all its inhabitants were spared.
So there you go, you should always have your mihi prepared...you just never know when you might need it. It could just save you from becoming part of a dinner menu.
Candice's 7 year old twin girls, Ava and Ella, are well prepared. Their teacher had them learn a mihi and then present it to their class every morning for a week to start the day. I attended Ava's and she did a splendid job. Following is a simple one we can all learn as a starter. Lots more can be added to it as we learn more about our whakapapa; a mihi is essentially a recital of whakapapa.
Ava and Ella's Mihi
Tainui ko toku waka...Tainui is my canoe.
Pirongia ko toku maunga...Pirongia is my mountain.
Nakuawhia ko toku awa....Nakuawhia is my river.
Waipa ko toku whenua...Waipa are my lands.
Hikairo ko toku iwi...Hikairo is my tribe.
Pere ko toku whanau...Bell is my family.
Rawhiri ko toku ingoa...David is my name.
Of course, you should adjust it to put in the things relevent to yourself.
In old times mihi's could be very lengthy because the speaker would be giving his family history in detail. That's why old Maoris in their traditional settings walked to and fro waving a walking stick which in old times had notches carved along the shaft with each notch representing an ancestor. The mihi was all about connectedness to confirm you were a legitimate visitor with rights to hospitality and protection due to kinship.
Rawhiri Pere....David Bell