A Maori word now common in New Zealand English, marae refers an area of land where the Wharenui or meeting house (literally "big house") sits. Like nearly all Maori words, it is unchanged in the plural.
The area in front is used for ceremonial welcomes and oratory. Some marae controllers do not allow women to perform oratory there.
The meeting house holds longer meetings, communal meals, sleepovers, and craft and other cultural activities.
Most tribes (iwi) and subtribes and even many small settlements have their own marae. An example of such a small settlement with its own marae is at Hongoeka Bay, Plimmerton, the home of renowned writer Patricia Grace. Since the second half of the 20th century, Maori in urban areas have been establishing intertribal marae such as Maraeroa in eastern Porirua. For many Maori, their marae is just as important to them as their own homes.