Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Mourea - Mãori cultural stay, Haka and Poi!

We arrived at our Marae (communal living land of the Mãori) at around 5pm. We were welcomed by Ruth who's family owned the place. She talked to us about their customs and what we would be doing. When we walked into the Marae we had to walk females first, men after. As in Mãori tradition women are more highly regarded and respected than men as women give birth to man, they have a reason to be missed.

Whenever you walk into a Marae you must stop halfway to respect the elders and relatives who have passed on and to send thoughts to them. She then took us into the Wharenui (literally 'big house') which is where all Maori would live and sleep under one roof as a big family in a tribe. We were greeted by her nephew who spoke a few words in Mãori as an opening blessing and then we all had to greet each other (around 40 of us) the traditional Mãori way to become one big family. Which means touching our noses together twice. It's quite difficult to so it while looking into the other persons eyes and trying not to kiss them lol! 'Kia Ora' is the traditional 'hello' or 'welcome' in Mãori.

The men then had to help put all the mattresses and sleeping bags out in the room while us women got to have a cup of tea or coffee and some biscuits and relax...I could get used to this!!

After around an hour a traditional Hangi dinner was served - roast chicken and vegetables, which is cooked in a traditional way using heated rocks buried in a pit oven. It was delicious but as we hadn't had lunch I was starving and are way too much!

After dinner we had time to get our stuff sorted from the bus into the Wharenui. Then it was time for our cultural show.

There was a team of traditionally dressed Mãori who sung a love song from Rotorua and performed traditional tribal dances and then it was time for the Haka!! For those of you who don't know what the Haka is first; shame on you, second its an awesome tribal war dance that is normally mostly made famous by the All Black's Kiwi rugby team. But its pretty special to see it performed in New Zealand by the Mãori themselves!

War haka were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition, but haka are also performed for various reasons: for welcoming distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals. Also what many people don't know is that the Haka was originally performed by the women of the tribe, not the men. Now imagine a group of Mãori women performing the haka - its pretty scary!

After that the women then performed the traditional Poi dance. It's basically a song and dance which involves swinging Poi around (soft balls attached to string) like pompoms but they can be used to tap against the body to make sounds too. 

We were then put into male and female groups where we had to perform the respective dances, men the Haka and women the Poi. We had half an hour of practise before performing to each other. It was hilarious as I can't say I was very good at swinging a Poi around!! Pierrick and the guys doing the Haka was can see the video on my Facebook page!

I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed the cultural dance evening and it was super interactive and so much fun! After it was shower time and then Ruth gave us 'bedtime storytime' which involved telling us a few legends of the Mãori people. There were too many to remember and write down. She also answered any questions we had about their traditions and culture. 

We were all sleeping under one roof as one big family so it was a tight squeeze with 40 of us but it was quite fun!

The next day we all had breakfast together - far too early at 6.45am - freshly made French toast and maple syrup, yum, before packing up and saying good bye and heading to Rotorua! It had been a thoroughly enjoyable and informative evening!

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