I returned to the land down under “The Land Down Under”, the land of the Kiwis, New Zealand. This was my second trip to New Zealand. The first time was about 16 years ago.
Back then I rented a car and drove around from town to town. Just before dusk I would call a B&B to check to see if there was room. I was more adventurous back then. This time around I took Air New Zealand domestic flights and trains to get around the country. I was in New Zealand for only 18 days. New Zealand turned out to be more expensive than I expected. After spending a couple of days in Auckland and Wellington I went onward to Christchurch. I made my way down to Queenstown and back up to Auckland.
A new favorite of mine, the TePapa Museum in Wellington
This is me in the jailhouse in Christchurch. Yeah I know some of you are saying “I knew it was gonna happen one day”. HA! HA! HA! But fear not, it is not a real jail hence the big smile and my jailhouse swagger. The building is an old jail turned into a hostel.
Inside the Jailhouse Hostel. This is what isolation looked like in a New Zealand jail.
The MAORI of New Zealand
I came back to Aotearoa (New Zealand) because I wanted to learn more about the Maori, the indigenous people of this faraway land. Although they no longer tattoo their faces or do the haka war dance (except at soccer matches, for great high ranking guests and other special occasions) they do try to preserve their very rich culture.
On this trip I discovered that there were different types of haka the main two being the war dance performed before going into battle and a haka performed for joyous occasions and included songs. I love to watch the haka war dances. The Maori tried to scare off their enemies by bulging their eyes, making deep guttural sound and sticking out their tongues and slapping their chests and arms. That would have made me run!I am including pictures below of the tour I took to the Tamaki Village in Rotorua which is the same village where I saw my first haka dance sixteen years ago and it was just as exciting this time around. This village is set up for historical purposes to keep the culture alive and share with locals and tourists alike. Unlike the Embera Indians In Panama, these are all performers, but they are all Maori. The Tamaki village was founded by two Maori brothers who sold thier Harley Davidson motorcycles to build this replica of a Maori village to keep their culture alive.
If you are not familiar with the Haka dance do a YouTube search and watch one. My favorite Youtube Maori videos are “The Greatest Haka Ever” and “All Blacks Haka Compilation HD”. Not only is the haka culturally enriching I think it’s pretty darned sexy. Haka! Haka!
MAORI PEOPLE of AOTEAROA
In the past the men had tattoos over their faces and the women had chin tattoos.The tattoos were a way of identifying themselves, like having your name tattooed on your face to let everyone know who you are. Each tattoo was uniquely different. The tattoos were extremely painful and I don’t think it’s accurate to call them tattoos. The marks were carved into the face using finely chiseled bone and a mallet. The mallet was used to tap the bone into the face leaving crevices. Although the Maori have stopped the traditional tattooing of the face they do have elaborate body tattoos.
A Brief History
You know I had to get a history lesson in here somewhere. This is my version of what I have read and heard talking to the Maori people. It comes from my memory and we all know how that is. The Maori were existing long before the British arrived in New Zealand. When the British arrived they basically said ‘we come in peace’. Hmmm? Where have I heard that before? Before you know it the Brits were coming to New Zealand and bringing with them some unruly behavior and extensive land expansion. The British heard that the French were thinking of annexing New Zealand so this put the Brits on the fast track to creating the Waitangi Treaty. This treaty was written in a few days. It was translated into Maori language by a missionary. Don’t trust those missionaries. It was told to me that when the missionary translated the document and gave the Maori verbal explanations he did not represent the treaty and its intent completely. The treaty was signed by most of the Maori chiefs and the British. What was not made clear to the Maori was the fact that they would no longer rule their land. The Waitanga Treaty ceded sovereignty over to the British, even lands owned by chiefs who had not signed the treaty became sovereign territory of the British. Māori were given the rights and privileges of British subjects. Does this all sound familiar? To this very day there are claims against the British government and many have been resolved.But the Maori appear to be fastidious. I wish them much luck as they contiue to question and seek to make changes to th Waitagi Treaty. The Moari, a beautiful people, a beautiful culture.
HOUSES of NEW ZEALAND
I really like clapboard houses and they seem to be popular in New Zealand. Many of the houses I saw had some aspect of my dream home. Sort of reminds me of uptown New Orleans back in the day.
TREES of NEW ZEALAND
I love trees and when I have time (which I do for now) I can sit in a park admiring them all day long as I did in New Zealand. I have never seen as many gorgeous trees in all my life. Usually you have to go to a national park to see trees as old and spectacular. These trees were right there in the heart of the city in parks and along ordinary streets throughout the cities.They are hundreds of years old. The last tree sits next to a three story building and the treetop juts up above the building. What a gorgeous tree. I was captivated by the beauty of the trees. Okay don’t get worried that I am going to become one of those ladies sitting on a bench in the park with pigeons perched all on her shoulders staring at the trees. I am not there, yet.
Christchurch experienced one of the most devastating earthquakes in February of 2011 measuring at 6.3 magnitude. The population decreased greatly (people leaving) after this major earthquake but statistics show that the population is expected to return to pre-earthqake status. I was surprised at the amount of construction that continues today. The earthquake was devastating but the people seem to be resilient and moving towards a better Christchurch. I was saddened by the number of historic building that remained gated and untouched since 2011. Some suggests tearing them down but others want these historic buildings to be rebuilt, a very expensive endeavor.
There was some minor aftershocks while I was there. I thank God I had experienced earthquakes in Japan otherwise I would have been running around in circles screaming like an hysterical crazy woman. I sat quietly and waited for one of two things, for the shaking to intensify or diminish. I am ever grateful that it turned out to be a minor aftershock.
Remember to take time to breathe, relax and enjoy life. Jay