Hospitality, kindness, generosity.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.Heb 13:2
What it is:
In English, we tend to translate “manaakitanga” as “hospitality”, but it is much more than offering food and welcoming people into your home (although those are important parts of it). Essentially it is “building the mana of others, through nurturing, growing and challenging.” Even when we are being “hospitable” the emphasis can sometimes be on ourselves. Manaakitanga is outward-looking. It is the mana of other’s, not our own, which we are hoping to grow. This involves kindness and generosity, since we must want to act for the best of the other even at our own expense.
Manaakitanga focuses on positive human behaviour and encourages people to rise above their personal attitudes and feelings towards others and towards the issues they believe in. Being hospitable and looking after one’s visitors is given priority. The aim is to nurture relationships and as far as possible to respect the mana of other people no matter what their standing in society might be. The value is often expressed as ‘acting like a rangatira’ [chief]. Such a person is prepared to hear about the other arguments relating to any particular issue.Tikanga Māori, Hirini Moko Mead, 2016, Huia Publishers. P. 378
He tangata takahi manuhiri, he marae puehu
A person who mistreats his guest has a dusty Marae (Meeting house)
Someone who disregards his visitors will soon find he has no visitors at all. This accentuates the importance of Manaakitanga, or hospitality with Maori society and culture.
He taonga rongonui te aroha ki te tangata
Goodwill towards others is a precious treasure
What it is not:
It is not just about our words of welcome or hospitality. These things are rendered meaningless if people feel that they are disregarded, judged or that their opinions and contributions are not valued. The integrity of our manaakitanga is demonstrated in our actions, our looking after others so that they feel respected and valued. This can even extend to such things as the way in which we pay attention to Health and Safety issues in our schools and ensure that people are kept as safe as possible and well-informed about the plans and procedures that are in place.
What makes this a Christian value?
In the gospels we see Jesus continually going to those who were ‘on the edge’ of their society and demonstrating his valuing of them in acts of healing, assuring them of forgiveness and using them as examples of virtue and holiness to those who considered themselves to be upright, pious, God-loving citizens.
It is easy to welcome and respect those who are ‘like us’. The gospel of Christ challenges us to extend that welcome and respect to all people, particularly those who are vulnerable for whatever reason, because we are all beloved children of God.
It is in the costly acts of ‘welcoming the stranger’ and caring for the ‘outsider’ that we encounter the person of Christ and our lives are changed in the process.
‘…Lord, when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?…Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ Matthew 25:38-39