A kind of college or school in which anciently the sons of priest-chiefs (ariki) were taught mythology, history, agriculture, astronomy, etc. It was a very sacred edifice and the building was attended with many important religious ceremonies. The teaching was imparted in sessions of about five months' duration, and the exercises lasted from about sunset to midnight, the daytime being reserved for the physical exercise and amusements of the pupils. No females were allowed to approach the building, and food cooked at a distance was brought by special messengers. Both the priests who taught and the initiate youth were tapu. The course of study occupied about five years.
The Wharekura appears sometimes to have been used as a Council Chamber or Hall or Parliament, where the chiefs of the tribes assembled.1 Of this sort was the celebrated temple of Te Uru-o-Manono (in Hawaiki) burnt by Whakatau.
- Taylor, Richard. (1870). Te Ika a Maui. 2nd ed. London: Macintosh, p. 176.
- White, John. (1885). "Maori Customs and Superstitions." In T. W. Gudgeon, History and Doings of the Maoris from 1820 to 1840. Auckland: Brett, pp. 97-225, p. 115.
- Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 613.
- White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 1:8.
This article incorporates text from Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (1891) by Edward Tregear, which is in the public domain.