Maori Welcome Ceremony and Ammon Meeting King Limhi

Maori Welcome Ceremony and Ammon Meeting King Limhi April 29, 2020

Maori welcome ceremony man and woman welcoming visitors
Roxy’s grandparents Joe and Milly TeNgaio

Mosiah 7 recounts the story of Ammon meeting King Limhi. King Limhi’s grandfather Zeniff left Zarahemla with a group of people seeking to possess the land of their forefathers.  Under King Mosiah’s direction, Ammon and his crew left Zarahelma seeking news about Zeniff’s people.

Ammon and his men traveled for 40 days and came to a community they believed to be Zeniff’s people.  Most of the men stayed hidden, but Ammon and three others approached the walled city.

King Limhi’s guards imprisoned Ammon and his three men.  Two days later, King Limhi brought them before him. King Limhi explained who he was a gave his lineage.

And he said unto them: Behold, I am Limhi, the son of Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, who came up out of the land of Zarahemla to inherit this land, which was the land of their fathers, who was made a king by the voice of the people.

Then Limhi commanded Ammon and men to explain their intent.

And now, when Ammon saw that he was permitted to speak, he went forth and bowed himself before the king

For I am Ammon, and am a descendant of Zarahemla, and have come up out of the land of Zarahemla to inquire concerning our brethren, whom Zeniff brought up out of that land.

Ammon described their search for the people from Zarahelma and happiness in finding them.

And now, it came to pass that after Limhi had heard the words of Ammon, he was exceedingly glad, and said: Now, I know of a surety that my brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla are yet alive. And now, I will rejoice; and on the morrow I will cause that my people shall rejoice also.

I’ve thought a lot about Ammon’s introduction to King Limhi.  The manner seemed so unusual to me, but I just assumed it was the way their culture handled meeting visitors in a time of self-defensiveness.

Maori Welcome Ceremony

My dear friend Roxy Kimokeo is Maori. She shared some really insightful Maori cultural traditions that brought greater depth and understanding to Ammon and King Limhi’s meeting for me.

You know what I keep being reminded of as I study these chapters?  How similar the formalities are between the Nephite culture and Maori!
Maoris lived in fortified villages with watchtower and a sentinel. If an approaching party is seen, the watchman would blow a trumpet (made of wood or shell) to alert everyone when visitors were coming.
Maori welcome ceremony
Roxy Kimokeo

In the Maori culture, when you meet a people, at first you are wary and the first approach is to decide if they’re friend or foe.  It’s just so similar to the Maori welcome ceremony (powhiri).

At the first contact, a warrior is sent to determine the intent. He lays a leaf down. And the visitor is treated as hostile until they literally bow down in a sign of peace to pick up the leaf. Once the group had picked up the leaf or other token, a group of warriors would escort them to stand before the leader.

Then the host and visitor take turns relaying genealogy and making introductions—the host first then the visitor. The host recites his geneology—name and lineage— in making introductions. And then the visitor does the same in an effort to determine if there’s a link between them.

Then speeches are made and go back and forth between host and visitor with all the people gathered together to witness. Finally, host and visitor embrace and the bonds of unity are established.

How fascinating to see such similarities between the two traditions! I love when modern connections increase my understanding of Book of Mormon stories.

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