Friday, February 6, 2009

New Zealand: Waitangi Day 1

From Sarawak to New Zealand.
On Thursday evening, Ngarimu of the Ngatiwhatuaorakei Marae invited some 75 volunteers to a formal welcome, a Powhiri with an female elder singing the welcome or the Karanga. We had a Pakeha Natasha who could reply in Maori. It was a symbolic gesture that we came in peace and the females entered the Marae ground first,and the men behind us.
When we entered the Marae, the men sat infront , and women behind. This is Maori protocol. The elders spoke to welcome us,at the end of it, we went to greet the elders with the Hongi, the Maori greeting with rubbing of our noses. We were treated with a sumptious vegetarian dinner.
Ngarimu asked the volunteers why we came. Some came because they were environmentally conscious, and some came because they came last year and were commited to this "Zero-waste" concept. Some of us were new Kiwis and students. Coming to this occasion was a privilege to experience the Maori way of life. Among these foreign contigent, there were volunteers from China, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, France, England, Germany, Canada, and probaly more, but I didn't talk to them all. There some children.
As for me, I explained I came to New Zealand in 1978, when Bastion Point was in the fore front of controversy. This was an excellent chance for me to be part of it. besides I have always been a proponent of recycling when I was living in Singapore.
I went away with some insight of the spiritual aspect having spoken to a Maori grand mother who invited me to sleep beside her grand daughters. We spoke the protocols of why we should not take photos inside the Marae because of the mana of the spirits, and to ordinary things like the puha vegetable that I had posted before. The Maori Culture is very interesting, if you go to my links, you too will find it very informative.
We became Whanau or family. I want to thank Ngarimu and his Marae family for this opportunity. Next year, I will be back with Sam.
***I photograph a T-shirt with the symbols from my birth country and the photographs fo the marae taken from the outside.***

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