E hoa ma, ina te ora o te tangata

Kia Ora.

There is a strong sense of culture and identity in New Zealand. In contrast to Australia which, unfortunately, rather segregates the Aboriginal community, New Zealand embraces its Maori heritage. Every sign is written in both English and the Maori language, the country is steeped in marvelled at legend and cultural practices are both accepted and encouraged. Having come straight from Australia, we were delighted to find such a racially welcoming place so decided to get onboard and discover more about the indigenous Maori people by visiting the Tamaki Village in Rotorua.

We made our way to the village in a fleet of canoes just like the first settlers and the bravest, cleverest and most handsome man of our little Waka was elected chief of our tribe. 

Ok, it was just a short bus drive away but our chief, Aashis, was definitely worthy. 

On arrival, warriors from the village performed a formal welcome ceremony or Powhiri. Our chiefs were challenged with the haka before a teka (peace offering) was laid before them, inviting them to enter the village. 

We were then all lead through into the village where we were transported back in time to learn about their ancestors' way of life before us Europeans trampled onto the land. We learnt about traditional fire poi, stick games, weaving, warrior training (pretty similar to how footballers train but don't tell them that, they have big enough heads as it is) and how to perform the Haka

After an extremely enjoyable and informative evening we were called to watch the unveiling of the traditional Hangi dinner. Big underground pits were uncovered and huge pots of chicken, lamb, fish, kumara (sweet potatoes) and stuffing were pulled out of the earth where they had been steaming for several hours. YUM. 

Whilst supper was being prepared we were treated to some performances in the Wharenui, their sacred meeting house. I thought I'd be really clever and take some videos for you but I fell out with the camera so I must apologise for the appalling blurriness coming up. I don't think I'll be taking The Travelling Dreamer into the vlogging sphere anytime soon. 

I completely fell in love with the Maori culture and philosophy and hope to bring a little of their ethos back home with me. E hoa ma, ina te ora o te tangata - my friends, that is the essence of life. At least in New Zealand, anyway.


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