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This article is about a Māori custom. For other meanings see "Koha ".
Koha is a New Zealandmarker Māori custom which can be translated as gift, donation, or remuneration.

Traditional usage

It is an example of the reciprocity which is a common feature of much Māori tradition, and often involves the giving of gifts by visitors to a host marae. Traditionally this has often taken the form of food although taonga (treasured possessions) are also sometimes offered as koha.

In modern times money is most commonly given to offset the costs of hosting a hui. For the benefit of non-Māori unfamiliar with the custom some marae may suggest a particular amount to be given as koha although this amount may not meet the actual costs associated with the meeting.

Wider usage

In wider current New Zealand society the term has a broader meaning more closely associated with the English term donation. When you are invited to a "free" event you may be asked for koha, usually in the form of a "gold coin donation" (i.e., $1 or $2 - this being the colour of these coins - rather than smaller silver coin denominations).

In New Zealand English it is becoming more frequent to refer to the small gifts, or more commonly food such as; biscuits, desserts or cakes, which are presented when visiting friends or family as koha. Such gifts are common custom amongst New Zealanders, especially so in rural areas. This custom, if not rooted in the Māori custom (tikanga), has been reinforced by it.

It is also sometimes used to mean, quite bluntly, payment as in "He aha te koha?" meaning "What does it cost?"

There is also an Open Source integrated library system called Koha.

See also

  • Potlatch, a similar practice among some First Nations peoples of west coast North America
  • Kula, a similar practice in Papua New Guinea
  • Moka, a similar practice in the Mt. Hagen area of Papua New Guinea
  • Sepik Coast exchange, a similar practice in the Sepic Coast of Papua New Guinea
  • Gift Economy, koha and similar practices of reciprocal giving are forms of gift economies.

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