North Island Road Trip Evening 2:
(Sorry for the blurry picture, but this is them doing a haka)
For the rafting and our evening event we were in Rotorua, which is known as the cultural heart of New Zealand.
We went to Tamaki Maori village for the evening, on the way there we got told that before we entered the Maori would be three warriors to challenges the chiefs from each bus – our chief was a guy from North Hampton called John, the chief had to be a man bit sexist but anyway – before laying a peace symbol at their feet and one of the Chiefs would have to pick it up to symbolise they come in peace. This is he traditional greeting for all visitors. We were told that we couldn’t laugh or smile during this first bit as the Warriors would be pulling funny facial expressions and they stick their tongues out a lot as well during the ritual. It is a great insult if you laugh or smile during this bit and if a warrior catches you we were told they’d turn their attention to us as they’d be distracted… Not sure how true that was but anyway we managed to get through it without anyone insulting the Warriors.
Then the chief told us that we could relax and we were free to enter the village where there were little huts dotted around the main square and at each one there were two Maori’s explaining part of their culture. One was teaching the haka, another was showing how the Warriors trained by running up and down a ladder on the ground, another was explains about the tattoos the Maoris got on their faces, the right side represents your mothers family and the left your fathers and the further up the face they went the higher status you are and they were used as sort of CVs as there was no written Maori language originally.
We asked how they were done originally and it sounded horrible it was done with bone and a chisel like thing they used to split their faces open and put ink in that way, the most common cause of death from this was loss of blood. It’s only done rarely today and barely any of the Maoris have real facial tattoos as it limits their ability to get work. A couple of the other demonstrations were how the women made the clothes mostly up of plants and kiwi birds! They also showed us the games they used to play to improve coordination and hand eye coordination I thought I could’ve used some of that when I was little might be a bit more coordinated now!!
After the demonstrations the chief invited us into the meeting hall, where the Maoris performed an amazing show for us full of traditional and slightly more modern songs and dances, finishing of course with a Haka. I literally can not describe how amazing this show was I’ve never seen anything like it. Was a real insight into their culture.
We then got shown to the food ‘pit’ they cooked our food in a traditional way underground using hot rocks. One of the brothers was describing the technique and was saying you can do it in your back garden, you need volcanic rocks for the best effect though, when he said this everyone started laughing because volcanic rocks are so easy to come by in the rest of the world the brother sort of looked a bit sheepish and shrugged in New Zealand there’s volcanic rock all over the place.
After that it was the meal which was so good, it was a buffet and since Jess and I have basically been living off pasta or rice and veggies we made the most of having some different food! We had traditional New Zealand pudding which is basically a chocolate sponge with custard again so good. To round off the evening the waiting staff got the Chiefs and a lot of the other guys to do a haka, which was pretty hilarious but they gave it a good go, one of the Chiefs was even doing the eye and tongue movements.
The waiting staff and our bus drivers then performed a few more songs for us before we got back on the bus to Rotorua, on the bus our chief had to give a a brief introduction to himself and sing a song he chose our rugby sing of sweet low sweet chariot, then every other nation had to sing a song from their country as well. It was really good fun, such an awesome way to spend a Friday night, it was the bit of our trip that I was looking forward to the most.