They're natural, human gestures we take part in every day, whether at business meetings, marae visits, formal ceremonies, or catching up with whānau and friends.
But traditional New Zealand greetings, the Māori hongi and the handshake, along with hugs and cheek kisses, have been ditched in recent months because of the risk of spreading coronavirus.
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted mass social distancing, forcing people to rethink their habits, and some have questioned whether our customary greetings should return at all.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters made headlines around the country, and in Australia and the Pacific, when he said Māori would have to make cultural changes to adjust to a Covid-19 world.
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Peters questioned whether Māori should put a permanent end to the use of hongi, saying the virus was a lesson that cultures need to adapt or die.
Indeed, many iwi stopped using hongi as a greeting in mid-March after the first cases of coronavirus in New Zealand.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds removed hongi and handshakes from pōwhiri and cultural performances before the lockdown and continued to do so when it reopened on May 16.
Cultural manager Mori Rapana said the Treaty Grounds had taken "stringent measures" to ensure the safety of staff and visitors, and there would be discussions about when or if the hongi is reintroduced.
Though he feels confident to hongi with staff when it's safe to do so, he isn't so keen to pick up the practice with tourists.
"It's a natural instinct for Māori to go straight in for the handshake and the nose," he said.
"But my personal gut feeling, even though it's an integral part of what we're trying to showcase, is that I would be quite happy for us to discontinue it moving forward but only for tourists."
Rapana said the hongi is fundamental to Māori culture and its tikanga and processes.
It comes from the legend of the god Tāne who moulded the shape of the first woman, Hineahuone, from earth and breathed life into her by pressing his nose against hers.
Therefore, when Māori greet each other by pressing noses, the sharing of the breath is considered to have come directly from the gods.
It's both a physical and spiritual act.
"It's sharing the breath of life with another person; sharing mauri [energy] which is the life force between two people," Rapana said.
"You move in and press noses and breathe in through the nostrils at the same time, so you're breathing in each other's essence. That means you've made a connection.
"Whether you're strangers or relatives or whether you're close, the hongi is all about making that connection and creating a synergy of manakitanga, whanaungatanga and aroha."
Far North tourist operator Jean Martin has worked in the Hokianga for more than 10 years, first as Tourism Motuti Trust and then as Hokianga Ki Te Raki Trust to create employment within the community.
She is now the project manager of Wero Tours, an authentic Māori cultural experience based at Te Ohonga marae in Kaitaia.
The new business began in January, and she only had a couple of visits before Covid-19 ground it to a halt.
She is now looking at ways to readjust to ensure the venture survives into the future.
"We're trying to re-imagine how we're going to do this, looking at different ways we can have our marae experience," Martin said.
"But given our culture, we haven't figured out how to do it yet.
"We may have to show samples of hongi within our own group or bubble rather than have visitors experience it for themselves."
Adopting the "Japanese bow" might also be on the cards, Martin said.
"Our biggest concern is how we're going to share our culture with other people without endangering ourselves or them. It's a difficult one but it's not impossible.
"Ultimately, people want to see your culture because they want to see something authentic."
The origins of the handshake date back to ancient Egypt and classical Greece, where the gesture appeared in early art and literature.
It's believed handshakes began as a gesture of peace; grasping hands proved you were not holding a weapon, and shaking them ensured your partner had nothing hiding up their sleeve.
Whangārei RSA President Kevin Peachey said the handshake was an important part of British culture.
A strong handshake was a sign of good character, he said.
Peachey said before Covid-19 forced him to change a life-long habit, he used to shake hands a lot.
"It's the way I was brought up, right from the beginning, was to shake hands when you're introduced to someone or you greet somebody.
"It's a natural thing to do. It shows you're genuine."
Peachey is hopeful the handshake will return once the virus is under control. It was important for all ages, not just the older generation, he said.
"If it doesn't come back, it's going to mean a whole change for society ... I think there's going to be something lacking."
Social anthropologist Dr Christine Dureau, from the University of Auckland, said handshaking and hongi were "fundamental everyday rituals".
They could communicate social status, mutual respect and cultural value, she said.
"They're the marking of a meeting or discussion or encounter with something that's socially acceptable with everyone involved.
"For example, who offers their hand first. In my parents' day they only shook hands with someone of higher status if they offered their hand first.
"But these days in New Zealand, it's more of a show of equality ... because being equal is such a strong value for New Zealanders."
The hongi was unique because it was closer and more intimate, Dr Dureau said.
"To me as a Pākehā the hongi always feels like a statement that my equal humanity is being recognised. You're sharing breath. It feels very welcoming, like you're really being embraced.
"In some ways it the most intimate greeting of anywhere in the world."
By taking away those rituals, "you're asking people not to do something ordinary and important at the same time", Dr Dureau said.
"You're asking them to fundamentally change the way they communicate.
"A lot of people have been saying adopt the Namaste, and maybe that's where it goes. In some ways the pandemic is forcing us to do this.
"I don't think we should understate the significance of that kind of sacrifice."
Far North District mayor John Carter said the hongi and handshake were important to the Far North, with its large Māori population.
Both gestures were an integral part of citizenship ceremonies, but they would not be readopted for a "considerable time" for safety reasons, he said.
"Hongi is important, but iwi leaders I've spoken to say they're 100 per cent behind being safe," Carter said.
"I'd be surprised if there's any rapid move to going back to tradition until we know we're absolutely safe. The important thing for people at the moment is to be sensible."
Not only is he sure the hongi and handshake will return, Carter said there would possibly be a "revival of culture".
"In particular our Māori culture, it's likely to become far better known than it has in the past. It could be an opportunity for us to educate and I'm sure that will become part of us going forward."
Rapana is also confident the hongi will remain.
"I have heard it's an outdated protocol, but that's from outsiders who don't have that connection," he said.
"For us it goes a lot deeper than that.
"We've been adapting our culture since beginning of colonisation. We've adapted our processes for the interim in order to ensure the safety of our people and we know we have to adapt our tikanga in order to survive long into the future.
"If that means we have to cut out the hongi for a period ... then so be it."