Tamaki Maori Village
This is Te Wero - the challenge. The warrior has met us at the gates of his village and wants to know if we are friend or foe (though why he couldn't just ask I don't know). Our 'chief' for the evening, a victim... err... volunteer I mean... responds by taking a peace offering placed on the floor by the warrior. Next he retreats into the village and we are welcomed by the womenfolk singing to lift the ancestral spirits from the floor.
So begins a night of traditional Moari culture - dance, song, shows of strength and traditionally cooked food.
We are welcomed into the village and taken around several reconstructed showcases - warriors practicing Te Wero, ladies singing and weaving, men carving totems and practicing rapid manoeuvres with spears and hand blades. Its an impressive sight, and a very authentic looking reconstruction.
Next we enter the meeting house where a speech is made by the chief. Despite being in the native tongue of the Maoris, it is mesmeric and engaging - it is translated after but it seems this was not really required.
Following this, we are accepted as equals in the village and free to roam. But dinner is being served, western food but cooked in a traditional Hangi - buried under wood fired hot rocks for several hours. The meats are well cooked and vegetables moist and succulent - everything has a tangy wood smoked flavour.
To finish we are given a display of the Haka - as practiced by the New Zealand All Blacks before an international game.
A great night out with a great people.
We reached Rotorua in the early evening and drove up and down for a while trying to decide on a nice place to stay. We finally decided on a small ground floor apartment, checked in and signed up for a visit to a Maori village on the morrow.
Wandering out to dinner was very pleasant in the balmy air, and no flies to badger us. I mentioned I had not had an “Indian” for ages so when we came upon one Jason suggested we go in. It was a bit basic and “flock wallpapery” but we had high hopes. The starter was nice enough but the main course was absolutely dire. There again, we had been spoiled by Australian grub.
We went to the Maori village next evening, picked up in a tour bus by a cheery Maori guide who wanted people to go up front and tell the others about themselves. Can you believe it, but some people actually volunteered??
Naturally they got roped into whatever silliness was going to occur the rest of the evening. Jason and I were having “second thoughts” several times over as we hung around but in the end the Maori village was absolutely delightful.
A traditional Maori confrontation was enacted, then we were welcomed into a lovely reconstruction of a village, set in a pine forest. There were several huts, at each of which a few Maori men or women were engaged in a traditional activity, e.g. cooking, training in combat, whittling woody things, singing etc. There were lovely smells and a lovely atmosphere.
In a large tent they gave a sort of concert, long speeches in Maori (slightly tedious) and music and song (really, really nice) – the ladies in grassy dresses and the men in sort of buckskin loincloth jobbies. After that came the hangi – food cooked in the earth covered with naturally hot stones.
The meats and fish were absolutely delicious but the sweet potatoes did not appeal. There was even a hot bread. All very simply cooked but with a very nice flavour. There was more entertainment and then we went home. I adore Maoris. No acting up for the tourists with them. They were joyous and honest and very, very proud of their culture – as they pointed out, they had never been conquered but had consented to make peace with the white settlers.
I do believe Jason enjoyed it too. (Jason: I did!)