We flew into Auckland in the afternoon with a bit of a flight delay but graciously the Maori were flexible and adjusted for our arrival to their Marae. Upon our arrival a beautiful woman began the pōwhiri or welcome call with her lovely voice and the flutter of her hand. Later I learned her name was Mania, whom I have kept in touch via e-mail following my return to the states.
Once inside the meeting house or wharenui we sat in traditional Maori seating with the men in front and women behind them. This worked well for me because they allowed me to move about and take photographs during the time we were in the wharenui. Here we met Bert who gave us the invocation and spoke briefly and then Mania spoke for short time. The final portion of our learning and discovery was spent with Kingi who spoke very openly and honestly about the Maori culture and the difficulties of sustaining its traditions. He was a wonderful liaison for the Maori people but not part of the iwi or tribe of this Marae. It was a wonderful introduction to the Maori people.
After the question and answers they served us a wonderful lunch and we were able to speak a bit longer with our hosts. Our Kiwi guide, Andrea found some common ground with the lovely Mania; two wonderful Kiwis who will always hold a special place in my heart!
|Two Kiwis: Andrea and Mania|
Later after arriving at our hotel we had our usual quick foot tour of the area of the city near our hotel, not all that far from the Sky Tower. We could actually see the jumpers from the hotel bar area. On our first steps outside the hotel there was a large bush or tree called Kowhai, generally regarded as Aotearoa, "the land of the long white cloud," or New Zealand’s national flower. It was beautiful with lovely yellow blooms.
|City of Sails|
There would be a lot to see in this eclectic city of sails.
Indeed what we would be missing if we failed to sail in Auckland?! No worries. We set sail the following morning. Down to the harbor where the Voyager yacht stands as a symbol to this city’s dedication to sailing we boarded the Challenger for a sail out into the harbor. Sailing. Drifting along. Some in our group took to the helm, others of us just enjoyed the sail, and took photographs of course!
After our sail we took a bus tour stopping at a park high on a hill overlooking the harbor and the city skyline and then The Domain, the sacred crater or Pukekawa where only the Maori are allowed to descend. You can see their presence in the rocks piled near the bottom. No one needed to descend to field the breathtaking view of Auckland from this city park.
|Auckland-from the Domain|
After our tour of some of the city we went to the Maori Museum where we saw many artifacts of the Maori culture and took in a presentation of song from a group of young Maori people. It was wonderful and could not have been complete without the Haka! If some of you are rugby fans, you would definitely have seen the All Blacks do this dance! I bought a Kiwi that played the Haka home for my grandchildren and taught them how to be fierce in dancing the Haka. It is still a favorite for them!!
|The Call of the Shell|
|Maori Museum Artifact|
We decided to walk down to see a lovely fig tree that has been there for generations. It’s a lovely BIG tree that was so impressive I couldn’t leave without stopping to take some photographs and experience it’s large roots!
|The Mighty Fig Tree|
|Roots of the Fig|
|A Bench for Pondering|
Our time in New Zealand was far too short. It was a tour that just brushed the surface of everything New Zealand has to offer. Everything but the Christchurch city center is open and there is so much to see! From the South Island and its wonderfully breathtaking scenery to the eclectic make-up of Auckland and the Maori culture found primarily on the North Island, there is something that awaits you to explore; something for you no matter what your favorite vacation style might be, photography, adventure, relaxation, history, hiking, nature and culture. This clean and ecologically conscious country is a treasure trove just waiting to be explored. I would love to return. There is so much more, perhaps living there for a while might be a better option! I’ll leave you with the inscription that is carved in the Maori Museum in Auckland:
The whole earth is the sepulcher of famous men
They are commemorated not only by columns and inscriptions in their own country
But in foreign lands also by memorials graven not on stone
But on the hearts of men
As always more photographs of the Maori can be found on Flickr and Facebook and on Auckland on Flickr and Facebook.