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Day 8- Kia Ora to our Māori Experience

Learning about Moana's family!

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A well needed lie in was enjoyed, a couple of life admin jobs sorted in the sunshine of the Tavern's patio. Although a boring way to spend a day in such a beautiful country, with 9 months away there are going to be a few days like this.

We decided to go for a little walk before our adventure in the evening, so headed for some hot pools I’d (Iz) seen on Google a stream off the beaten track thinking we could sit in for a little while and enjoy a beer. We both reveled in the fact we are lucky enough were walking through the countryside on the other side of the world with the early afternoon sunshine beating down on our back with no worries. After clambering through some bushery, I could see where we wanted to go but couldn’t work out how to get there. We walked up and down for a while before counting our losses and heading back to camp.

Back at base we showered and changed, ready for our evening immersed in the Māori culture. All ready to set off... and... once more, the van's battery was dead, urgh! Last time was annoying however with nowhere to be it was not too much of an issue. Yet this time we were on a tight schedule. Luckily we had planned to leave two hours earlier than needed to look around Rotorua first. Using the phone in the tavern to call the breakdown service and beg them to just change the battery (in the knowledge this would just keep happening otherwise), they said the engineer was about 90 minutes away. Panic sets in as that left such little time to actually get to our pick up spot. Although our nerves were saved as the woman in the Tavern was extremely helpful and informed us that the village was actually just down the road and we could probably drive straight there in time rather than going in to town to be bought back out again.

After what felt like a lot longer than an hour and a half we were back in business with a new battery saftey tucked under the hood. Actually, this kind of turned in to a blessing in disguise as we’d only have a 10 minute trip back to the campsite later instead of the planned hour. Being the first to arrive we were met by two Māori's and were given a low down on protocol for the traditional welcoming we were about to experience; including no smiling or laughing and no talking. Apprehensive about what we about to witness we headed in alongside the coach arrivals.

Walking through to the outdoor auditorium we heard the distance sound of drums and chanting before (from every angle) members of the tribe sprang up and performed their Haka; a traditional battle dance. Three people from the tour had been elected to be ‘chiefs’ to the packs. Once the welcome ceremony had been completed (which included three dropped leaves being retrieved by the cheifs) then pressed noses, twice, and we were finally accepted into the village.


The set up was different huts explaining different parts of the culture.

The first was about history, art and tattoos. The second was about women dancing, our chief had to pick three women to go up and learn how to use the Poi (basically a ball on the end of a piece of rope). I was picked (unfortunately), yet going up I was optimistic. She made it look so easy... first move she taught us she said was the most simple; hold the end of the rope in your right hand, swing the ball clockwise and catch with your left hand. Anyone who knows me, knows my left side of my body doesn’t co-ordinate with my right side (you should see me do Zumba! ????)! During a five minute demonstration, I didn’t catch it once. Luckily, the other two weren’t very good either! I was pretty happy though as two minutes before we got there Andy said he couldn’t work out how to video on the camera, so there wouldn’t be any evidence- this appeared to be a lie... unfortunately!


We carried on to a hut teaching us about the Hāngi (a way of steam cooking food in underground ovens) and their use of reeds to make clothing, fire light and decorations. We watched some traditional stick games and Andy learnt how to do the Haka; which was only slightly more coordinated than my attempts with the Poi. We also found out that the reason behind the sticking out of their tongue at the enemy was to signify that once I beat you I will eat you, once I’ve eaten you, you will come out the other end...so in short the tongue gesture means I will shit you out.


Our dinner was dug up from the Hāngi and sent off to be prepared for serving, while we had some performances by all the villagers; traditional dances and songs. It was a really great show! Sitting down for dinner was a feast and a half, we filled our plates with chicken, lamb and every vegetable imaginable, all covered in gravy. We sat and ate nattering away about the Māori culture and how much we love learning about different people and that’s what this trip is about for us..... well and the waterfalls, beaches and cocktails!


Posted by Bears on Tour 23:53 Archived in New Zealand Tagged poi maori hangi haka

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