September 7, 2017
The trip last night to the Tamaki Maori Village was not only a hoot but also, very touching. We were the first to be picked up before going to various hotels that would take us to the Maori village 15 km out of town. Our driver who introduced himself with a 57 letter Maori name said we could call him George! When he learned that Kweller is a Polish name he spoke to us in Polish. He then launched into a dialogue about the comparison of American football and NZ rugby, George being a center on his team. Rugy is a “real” man’s sport where there are no protective pads or adverts. Just 90 ( ?) minutes of brute strength play. The All Blacks are the best team on earth! hat was just the beginning of a very entertaining evening with him.
As people got on the bus he asked nationality. Soon he explained that the Maori greeting “Kia Ora” means hello, welcome, goodbye, have a wonderful life. It is customary to respond the same . The night was full of Kia Oro’s. He translated into 59 languages with what we could fathom a pretty good accent on the drive to the village. We also learned the rules and protocol of entering. George helped us elect a chief, John, who would represent our bus to the tribe for the evening. He was the only guy on the bus that played rugby in England! John answered our challenge for peace after the welcome dance. We then went into the village and learned about the history, customs, games etc. and were spared the rain We saw the “hangi” earth oven where meat, vegetables and pudding were put on the hot coals. This was followed by a short concert followed by a banquet dinner. We sat with a young couple from Albany on their honeymoon and a few of the Maori. Songs followed. What was very apparent was the cultural pride that the Maori wanted to share so that we would pass on to our country. It was really very serious and sweet. Food was not great but the experience was. Bob mentioned that he met a Kiwi in the bath that said the Kiwis treated the Maori as well as the yanks treated the native Americans. That said, the Maoris are reclaiming some of their land slowly.
Now for the trip back to camp! This was going to be raucous. We started with the English singing God Save the Queen. Then the 4 of us yanks had to sing the Star Spangled Banner, followed by the Canadians with Oh Canada. We went through every country represented on the bus plus some sung by George because is part Irish. Then we sang children’s songs known by most throughout the world. When we got into town, George started to sing “Here we go “round the mulberry bush” tune with the words “ here we go round the round about. Can you imagine a 40 foot red bus going around a small round about at least 10 times in the pitch dark tooting the horn and holding up traffic for several minutes!!!! That will give you an idea of the fun we had. Not sure all bus dirvers are the same!
Very cold back at camp but comfy under the duvet. Rained all night but got a bit of a break in the morning.
Had a very good coffee to go from Capers and on to the Duck bus with Marcus and 4 special needs adults. We loved learning a lot about the region in a very entertaining way. We have had a break from the rain and it is sunny. Kiwis are marvelous story tellers! We were on one of the original 2,000 ( of 21,000 produced 1942-1945). Ducks, as many of you know, were one of the most celebrated vehicles of WWII for transporting goods to the troops.
This trip was to learn about Roturoa and the regional lakes all within a volcanic crater whose volcanic spew made Mt. St Helens look like a pimple! Rotorua means # 2 lake. We drove the Maori gardens and learned that Klamath Falls, OR is a sister city. We visited Lakes Rotorua, Okareka ( small fishing) Tarawera, Lake Tikiitapu. Most had shark nets to protect against bad plant life! The vehicle had to be inspected when we came out of the water each time for these killer weeds.
We learned lots about the volcanic activity in the region. Marcus sensed the need for activity on the bus and turned on great music ( wish I could remember!) that the special needs folks ( and we) loved. All hopping in our seats! Fun morning!
Back to Capers for lunch and off to Taupo.
Sporadic rain through the country ( about 79 kms). Lovely drive to Taupo camp which used to be Top 10 Holiday. Josh and Melissa stayed here when a swim up to the bar was lovely in much better temps. Walked about town with not much interest. Back to camp for a beer at the swim up bar ( and no swimming).
In honor of Josh & Melissa who stayed here in January, we are having a 2015 Mud House Claim 431 Vineyard Central Otago pinot. (believe they had a similar wine) Dinner tonight are hamburgers and avocado salad.
Life is good! More adventures tomorrow!