When we reached Rotorua we met up with the Kiwi Experience bus again and got sorted for the evening event which for some of us was an overnight stay at the Tamaki Maori Village and for others a dinner there. Those of us who were staying overnight were taken to the village a few hours before everyone else so we could experiece and learn more of the Maori culture and games and also prepare for the evening.
It was an amazing experience from the beginning till the end. On the way to the village we were told that we had to select a ‘chief’ to represent our group during the stay. It was only our group staying overnight so we all felt kind of VIP which was awesome and really special.
When we arrived we were greeted with a traditional welcome by the entrance.
They lead us into there dining hall where we had cake and hot drinks and afterwards were taught their alphabet through a song called ‘A Haka Mana’ which we had to perform later in the evening when all the other guests had arrived for the dinner:
Then we were taught a few traditional Maori games that the children would play which actually prepared them for fighting. It is a fun ganme though!
Later on other groups of people would arrive or the dinner, but none of us could get in before the ceremony where the Maori people would arrive to greet us and see if we were friends or foes. It was an extremely serious thing where we were not allowed to smile and if we did and got caught they would get really offended and potentially hurt you (man or woman would make no difference), so someone would have to escort you out of the grounds as fast as possible and you would not be able to get back in. Especially for the leaders it was crucial for them not to smile, to keep eye contact and to keep their hands in front of them to show that they were not hiding a weapon behind their backs. One by one each of the leaders were given a leaf which was put on the ground in front of them that they had to pick up all the while maintaininng eyecontact with the person who had offered the leaf.
All the different groups were then shown and explained maori traditions and had a go at them as well. Some of them were doing the Haka (for men), shown how to use a Poi (ball on a cord) (for women), explained about the tattoos and the waka taua (war canoes).
once that was over, they did a beautiful show with song and dance which was beautiful. Afterwards we were explained about traditional hangi (food prepared in a pit oven) and then they brought up the food from the groundin front of us and it was time for dinner!
It was great food with some Maori songs, then our A Haka Mana song and then the Haka.
Once the dinner was over everybody left except our group. We then went to their outdoor spa area where we could get some drinks from the bar as well – and it was not even a warm evening and it was raining a tiny bit as well. But it was still lovely and good fun.