Our shore excursion today was an immersion into the Maori Culture. We visited a Maori meeting house as if we were a visiting tribe. From our men, Harry Fegley was chosen as our chief. He chose a song for us to sing at the appropriate time in the ceremony. We were told that we needed to remove our shoes before entering the house and that women would sit in the rows behind the men.
After these preparations, a young Maori warrior, dressed in typical costume did a rather threatening dance with a spear. At the end he threw a leaf at Chief Harry’s feet. He had to pick it up to indicate that our mission was friendly. Then we entered the house. After a long greeting in the Maori language followed by a song also in Maori, Chief Harry greeted the Maori for us. He told who we were and from where we came. Then we sang “Home on the Range.” The Maori leader obviously knew the song and struggled to keep from laughing at our choice.
Then we all did a Maori greeting which consisted of shaking right hands and touching our nose to their’s while saying “Keori” which is a lot like aloha in Hawaiian. Then their chief explained that the walls were covered with wood carvings done by the men and representing an ancestor. Between the wood carvings were tapestries woven by the women and telling some tribal legend. These alternated on all four walls and together told the tribes story.
Following a question-answer time, we went next door for tea, which was a typical English tea. The New Zealanders were obviously comfortable with both their Maori and their English heritage.