Hongi is a traditional Maori greeting, which literally means “to share breath”. Hongi is done by pressing one’s nose to the other person when they meet each other. It is believed that when the two noses meet, people exchange their breath and the visitor becomes one of the local people (tangata whenua).
The beginning of this ceremony is believed to be in one of Maori legends, in which gods made a woman from earth, and god Tane (in translation from Maori Tane means Male) breathed life into her through the nostrils. She then sneezed and came to life. Her name was Hineahuone, which means “earth formed woman”.
After the visitor is greeted, and for the remainder of his stay, he is obliged to share in all the responsibilities of the hosts.
What a beautiful and tender greeting! It says a lot about the whole Maori nation.