Within the Fourfold: Dwelling and Being upon the Marae

Pounamu Jade William Emery Aikman


This article explores how Heidegger’s (1971) concepts of dwelling and the fourfold are embodied within the marae (community meeting plaza of ancestral significance), as meeting centres for functioning Māori communities, and how kin who are regularly involved in their marae ‘dwell’ within their ancestral landscapes. Through careful analysis, I examine how the metaphysically complex nature of wharenui (meeting houses) and marae can be understood and appreciated through the alignment of the fourfold conditions of existence. Thus, wharenui uniquely reify the gathering of earth, sky, mortals, and divinities, allowing an investigation into the multifaceted nature of the marae. I conclude by discussing the primary challenge for marae today—the irregular return of kin and physically distanced whānau—and whether the process of dwelling can continue as kin negotiate the struggles of living in the twenty-first century.


dwelling; marae; Heidegger; community; holistic

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol12iss2id294