I think that I might begin this blog with a couple more cultural aspects of New Zealand. Starting with: The Maori. I’m currently enrolled in a course called Maori Society and Culture, which after only 3 full lectures I have found to be incredibly interesting. The second day of class, we all went to the marae (pronounced: Muh-rye) on campus to go through a Maori (pronounced somewhat like “mow (like “now”) ree”) welcoming ceremony.
The Marae is the area outside of the meeting house. It is a sacred area in which all sorts of community events take place including various ceremonies, weddings, parties, etc… It is also the area in which the welcoming ceremony takes place. This is (now) a very theatrical routine, though in old times, the maori tribes would go the same routine to check if the unknown intruder comes in peace or in aggression. As we walk up the lawn to the Marae, our representative (our female Maori professor) trades a number of calls back and forth with another woman representing the Marae. We then were invited to sit down- women in the back, males in front, and they continued. An older man go up and recited a number of words all spoken in Maori, followed by a younger man carrying a stick. He (I believe) Represented the young warrier sent out to see if the visiters come in peace or harm. If he didn’t return, the tribe would know that it was not an amicable visit. After his many lines, the visiters are all officially welcome, and go around to everybody in the tribe to partake in the Maori Greeting: The Hongi, which is the pressing of noses. Then we could take off our shoes and enter the house. The other bonus part to this is that, when invited into the house, one typically doesn’t leave until they share food :o).
The House itself represents Father sky and Mother Earth together, and there are a number of other panellings streaming down the ceiling representing other various gods decended from those two, who then turn down the wall to the various mortal maori tribes. Just about the entire building is carved (like you can see from the outside of the house as well, and it is absolutely beautiful!
That’s the best I can do right now with the Maori welcoming ceremony- I can assure you that many more interesting bits of information will come! At the end of the semester, we are required to either do a night stay in the Marae and wake up for class the next morning, or write a paper (if at ALL costs the night stay cannot be done). How exciting!
Just today I went down to the Warf to check out Dragon Boat racing.
For a decent description of the dragon boat racing history, check out Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_Boat
I personally had never heard of, let alone experienced dragon boat racing before, but the entire city celebrated this weekend long event (it continues through tomorrow) of Dragonboating as a festival!
The boats are very long and narrow and hold a co-ed team of 20 paddlers, a caller (in the front) and a steerer (in the back). Walking through the many many tents set up with teams who came from all over to compete in this two day long festival, we could see teams resting up and preparing for their race.
Why not skip around in time? So, while just today I checked out the traditional dragon boat racing, just last weekend my friends Aurora, Solny and I took road trip number two in a Mazda with a sweet little driving reminder on the dash board:
We can’t remember the model, but it ended up aquring the name Xena, and Xena took us on the Irondrive: Up to Taupo (oh how we love it there!) to check out the anual Ironman New Zealand! : “The World’s Best Race, In the World’s Most Beautiful Place”
What was especially cool is that I knew of somebody from NY competing int he competition, and we were able to meet up with him and watch his race. What was especially unfortunate is that Taupo had their worst Ironman weather in history. Absolutely tremendous winds which resulted in the cancellation of the swim as well as half of both the bike and swim. While it was only 1/3 of the exertion the athletes had planned on performing, it seemed apparent that the weather made up for the lack of distance covered.
I think that’s enough jumping around and back and forth for now… BUT, If anybody has something in particular you’d like me to blog about, I’d love a mission!