Saturday, December 13, 2003

Tamaki Maori Village (1 of 2)

Every major hotel in Rotorua has some sort of Maori cultural performance -- the one at my hotel involves much song and dance, every night, around the pool. 

I went to Tamaki Maori Village -- an attraction created by a couple of brothers who wanted to take the Maori stuff out of the hotels and put it back where it belongs, in the hands of the Maori on their terms.

Overall, I thought it was a great experience.  Words like "classy," and "respectful" leapt to mind.  It didn't feel like "Maori culture on parade" but instead felt like a group of people of Maori heritage who were trying to get in touch with their roots and preserve their culture, and share it with us in an educational and informative way.

We were welcomed to the Maori village with a traditional welcome, then walked along this little "village" area through the trees where there were pairs of people practicing things like tossing sticks back and forth, or throwing around them little string things with soft balls on either end.  Then we went into a meeting house for a cultural performance, and finally into an eating hall for dinner, a hangi (food cooked underground -- just like the Fijian lovo).

During the cultural performance, there was a lot of explanation.  We were told that the Maori kids used to play games like the stuff we'd seen outside -- tossing sticks back and forth faster and faster for instance -- and these games were meant to prepare them for being warriors later -- quicken up the reflexes, strengthen peripheral vision, things like that.  THEN we saw this stuff in action in a high-speed performance.

(And I thought, "Damn, if the Maori and the Fijians ever went to war, the Maori would clobber the Fijians.")

1 comment:

pegluh said...

Well, the Maoris did get the bigger islands.