03 Jan COLLECTING EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS: VISITING A TRADITIONAL MAORI VILLAGE
Our motto and motivation is to “collect experiences, not things”. Whilst on our journey, we’re aiming to spend our time and money on spectacular experiences, to be left with incredible learnings and memories, not tangible objects. This way, we’re sure to keep our lives light without additional luggage, but also be the change we want to see in the world.
Our next featured experience is a visit to the Tamaki Māori Village in Rotorua, New Zealand.
The day had finally come. The moment I had been waiting for, all my life. I had mixed emotions – excited, yet slightly nervous. The day had come when I would be voted in as Chief.
You see, during our recent Kiwi adventure with our friends from Trafalgar, I was thrust into the limelight during a special “Be My Guest” experience, visiting the Tamaki Māori Village in beautiful (but slightly smelly) Rotorua, on the North Island of New Zealand.
When paying respect to authentic Māori people, each “tribe” (as our group of travelers quickly became known) has to have a fearless leader to meet and ‘greet’ the locals’ Chief, when your tribe sets foot on their land (and I use the word ‘greet’ loosely, as when we first arrived, I stood in front of our 39-strong crew, and was immediately intimidated by five Māori warriors. They chanted and shouted all whilst yielding spears that were propelled towards my face, to see if I would flinch. Happy to say I didn’t flinch. In fact, I couldn’t move. Struck with fear, I just took the onslaught. Turns out, the reason for the aggressive greeting, is to find out if we came in peace, because we all know many foreigners in the 1800s didn’t.
After all the chanting and shouting had stopped, the real Māori chief, with a face completely covered in traditional Tā Moko tattoos, offered me a token of peace, which was a silver fern leaf – New Zealand’s iconic symbol. We performed an authentic Māori salutation, touching noses twice, never losing eye contact, and only after said nose touching was complete, were we welcomed into the village to meet the rest of the locals.
Our evening continued as we strolled through the village, learning about the Māori culture and customs, including how to do the Haka – the famous Māori war dance.
I had always known about the Haka (seeing it countless of times, performed by the mighty All Blacks rugby team) but I never thought I would be completely useless at it. Maybe I needed a few beers to loosen the joints, but that was hopeful thinking.
After not intimidating anyone, we all moved on to the dinner pit, a.k.a the Hangi, to observe a traditional cooking method, where the Māori dig up a hole in the ground, heat up stones inside, and place our dinner inside to slow cook everything from chicken to veggies (in kind of reminded us of the feast we had in Mauritius earlier this year) .
All in all, I learnt that being the Chief has it perks, but I think I’ll go back to being a traveller for now, thanks.
*Oh, and any South African readers out there keen for a little early 2017 gift? Our friends at the South African Trafalgar office are letting our readers get a 15% discount off ANY New Zealand trip booked directly through the Trafalgar centre, using the promo code “HFFH” before 31 January 2017. The only T&C is that this may not be combined with the EPD discount. Other than that, 15% off ALL New Zealand trips for any Saffas wanting to go practice the Haka too. You can call +27 011 280 8440 to make your booking. You’re welcome 🙂