As written by Forster and Ratima in 1997 
Traditionally, a Marae was the space or area in front of the meeting house. In contemporary times this definition has been extended to include the entire complex, all of the buildings and the grounds that are associated with the meeting house. The Marae provides a central point for the local Māori community and an environment where Maori cultural practices are the norm.
Marae-based programmes can offer a unique environment to improve health and reduce harm - programmes can enhance access to te ao Maori (the Maori world) by emphasising tikanga, whānau and a holistic approach to health .
It is also believed that Marae-based programmes can :
- address access barriers to getting help
- offer a more comfortable, social and relaxed environment to talk about issues
- strengthen the mandate for action by the community and so enable empowerment and control
Many Marae-based programmes are already in place throughout the country - to reduce smoking, improve healthy eating etc.
Alcohol and the Marae
Pre-European Māori were one of few societies NOT TO have manufactured or used psychoactive substances. Early Māori petitioned Parliament for the total prohibition of alcohol.
Many Marae are rightly concerned about waipiro/alcohol use in their communities and the harm it causes. Many have taken strong action to provide a healthy and safe environment for all to thrive.
Both iwi-based or urban Marae have developed policies in relation to alcohol use at the Marae. Some have gone further and sought to identify persons and their whānau who may need support in relation to alcohol use.
Many Marae have placed a rāhui or ban on alcohol in the Marae. This has usually been the result of a key leader in the Marae who identifies the harm that alcohol is doing to their community.