The Māori concept of ahikā (burning fires of occupation) was once a necessary part of asserting one’s mana whenua (rights to land) over customary territories. If ahikā was exercised over land, that land would be open for others to take and use. Physical presence, kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face), was therefore required in order to exercise ahikā over land. The notion of ahikā has significantly changed as new ideas developed to encompass a steadily increasing national and international Māori diaspora with more Māori living away from their tribal boundaries, lands, and waterways. This paper investigates the tensions and challenges that Māori living away from home face in the maintenance of ahikā, illuminating the pressures on the deeply held values and practices of kanohi ki te kanohi. A key aim is to provide greater understanding around the significance of kanohi ki te kanohi and its place in modern Māori society particularly in the context of the new technologies and practice known as social networking sites.
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