n. An ornamental Maori meeting house representing the body of a tupuna, forming part of the larger marae complex.
A wharenui ( literally "big house") is a communal house of the Māori people of New Zealand, generally situated as the focal point of a marae. Wharenui are usually called meeting houses in New Zealand English, or simply called whare (a more generic term simply referring to a house or building).
Also called a whare rūnanga ("meeting house") or whare whakairo (literally "carved house"), the present style of wharenui originated in the early to middle nineteenth century. The houses are often carved inside and out with stylized images of the iwi's (or tribe's) ancestors, with the style used for the carvings varying from tribe to tribe. Modern meeting houses are built to regular building standards. Photographs of recent ancestors may be used as well as carvings. The houses always have names, sometimes the name of a famous ancestor or sometimes a figure from Māori mythology. Some meeting houses are built where many Māori are present, even though it is not the location of a tribe; typically, a school or tertiary institution with many Māori students. While a meeting house is considered sacred, it is not a church or house of worship, but religious rituals may take place in front of or inside a meeting house. On most marae, no food may be taken into the meeting house.