Saturday, 28 June 2014

Māori Taonga

Kia ora :-)

Recently, I learned how to make two special Māori crafts. They're considered taonga, or treasure, because they are both really important to the culture. For both projects, we opened with a karakia (prayer) to bring everyone's mindsets together for what we were about to do, closed with another karakia when we were finished, and ate some kai (food) together when everything was completely done.

My friends and Jenny's friends came over one Sunday afternoon and Helen taught us how to make poi. I think I described it in a previous post, but poi were traditionally used by men to soften their wrists after working with big weapons, like the taiaha. Over time, it became something that the women would use in song and dance, and now usually only women work with poi, especially in kapa haka.

The finished products!

I learned about harakeke (flax) weaving -- raranga -- at the Massey library. We went out by the pond, said our karakia, and harvested the flax right there. The flax grows in fans and we were careful to find the "baby" flax in the middle and a "parent" on each side, and only harvest the "grandparents" that were on the very outsides, keeping the plant balanced. We needed to cut with a downward slant, so when it rains the flax doesn't rot. Then we prepped the flax by folding it and cutting off the bottoms, and brought them inside.They taught us how to weave a really simple putiputi (flower). 

Flax was used extensively in the past and is still used very frequently today. Many people weave baskets, flowers, cloaks, jewelry, belts, and fishing nets. Traditionally, it was also used for medicinal purposes such as treating burns, ringworm, cavities, and as a blood purifier. 

Here's what I did:

ngā putiputi harakeke -- flax flowers

Hei konei rā

Friday, 27 June 2014

Hitchhiking and All Blacks

Kia ora koutou

Man, it's hard to keep up a blog when your amazing experience in New Zealand is ending soon and everything is happening and you have exams and you're trying to spend as much time as possible with everyone you love before you have to say goodbye to them for a long time. It's a little late, but here's a recap of my last "big adventure" in NZ.

When classes ended we were given a week-long "study break", so naturally, my friends and I took the opportunity to explore a bit more of the North Island. We did all of our traveling by hitchhiking and we were very lucky with all of our rides. We made the six hour drive up to the Coromandel Peninsula in just three rides! We didn't quite have our sleeping situation planned for that night, so our last ride generously offered for us to camp on her dairy farm in Tairua. That was so nice because otherwise we'd be on foot with huge backpacks, looking around for some place to camp in the dark. Feeling very lucky, the three of us pitched our two-person tent next to the cows.

We woke up a bit soggy because it had rained all night, but we had to hit the road early to make the most of the day. Our Couchsurfing host, Shep, picked us up on the side of the road and drove us around all day as he checked road conditions throughout the peninsula for his job as a consultant for the regional council. It was fun listening to his stories and getting to see the area. He even took us up to Cathedral Cove where parts of Narnia was filmed! We also got to see orca whales swimming out in the bay. Mīharo! (Amazing!)

Cathedral Cove

Shep's house was so awesome. He hosts couchsurfers and WWOOFers from all over the world. He has friends in so many countries and the interior of his house really shows it. Most of his furniture and dishes are handmade by himself and the people who visit. His walls are filled with artwork done by friends and he has a woodstove and a piano. What more could you ever want in life? We had a feast for dinner of extremely delicious pumpkin soup (my new favorite food), chicken, French bread, pizza, and muscles. P.S. dinner is definitely not in the job description of a couchsurfing host. We also had surprise visitors: two of the neighbors cows and one of Shep's new baby goats were loose in his yard so we all had to make a human wall and guide them to their rightful homes. I always have to laugh at the crazy situations we get ourselves in. 

Shep's house

Us and Shep !

We stayed with Shep only one night, then we had to hitch to Auckland for the weekend because Lisa and I had tickets to see the All Blacks vs. England rugby game. But before the game, we had fun exploring the city with our lovely hostel-mate, Ahmed.


not a real significant reason to pose here...

hangin' around the park

Lisa's fav tree

 The rugby game was the first of three games in the Steinlager series. It was incredible! The players were HUGE up close! The strongest men I've ever seen. And when they did the haka... so intimidating. We were told the All Blacks would win by a long shot, but the game ended up being really close. But yes, the All Blacks won and New Zealand exploded with pride and joy.




The game is very physical and played without padding or helmets. The All Blacks are coming to Chicago on November 7th to play The Eagles. (I didn't even know we had a rugby team!) I really hope I can make it to that game!!!

The next day we hitched all the way back to Palmy - an 8 hour drive. It took us all day, but we made it safely and caught our last ride before dark. I'm gonna miss how easy it is to get around in NZ...

I have some more things to update on before I leave in FOUR DAYS. Wow, hard to believe. I've already said goodbye to all of my American friends and that was so sad. Jenny and I are going to Napier tomorrow so that will be really fun :-)

Seeya soon, USA
Ka kite ākuanei, Amerika