I walked towards the bus which was supposed to take me to Tamaki Village. As soon as I was close enough I could hear how the bus driver made the people on the bus guess my nationality. Swedish, no German. I heard them say. I jumped in the bus, received the ticket with my table number on it (for the dinner later) and everyone was staring at me, waiting for my nationality. German. I was right. Yeah. I told you. The nice atmosphere made me smile and I sat down. Our bus driver was really motivated and made us interact with him. We learned a lot of Maori words and about what we have to expect in Tamaki village, a Maori village. Since no one volunteered as a chief of our tribe, the Kea bus, our bus driver picked one from the list. It was a guy from London who then had the special task to represent us at the welcome ceremony and to lead us around the village. At the village we all stood in a circle and watched the Maori welcoming us by dancing and doing the Hongi. After our chief had expressed that we were coming in peace everyone followed him into the village. We were welcomed by Maori men showing the men from our group how to dance the haka. It was really much fun to watch.
The next stop was for women only. Two Maori women presented us the Poi which simply means ball. For over a thousand years Maori women have danced the Maori Poi, a dance with balls attached to strings, swung rhythmically to keep their hands flexible for weaving. The women taught the visitors a little performance. Afterwards they invited us to take pictures with them.
I loved the atmosphere in the forest, some bonfires burning and filling the air with its unique smell. I took part in a stick game, where four people stand in a square, holding sticks in their hands. Depending on the direction announced you either have to run right or left to catch the stick which the player next to you drops. Whoever runs into the wrong direction or doesn’t catch the stick loses. The last person with a stick wins. Due to my speed and listening skills I made it, yeah. Even if I was the only woman taking part.
On our way through the village we furthermore passed a weaving station and a place to test the speed and skill of your feet.
Last but not least our chief led us into a little arena in which we learned about our dinner, the Hangi. The potatoes, the lamb and the chicken were cooked in the steam coming from the geothermal activity around Rotorua. We saw how it was taken out of the ground and my mouth started watering.
However, we couldn’t start eating right away. We first went into the Maori meeting house were we watched songs, dances, such as the Haka and a short movie telling us about how the Maori culture changed when the English came to New Zealand. Not only did they bring useful things, such as new food and sailing boats but they also brought dangerous weapons and diseases with them which killed a lot of non-resistant Maori.
After the show it was time for the Hangi. Time to have a look at my ticket with my table number on it. 13. The huge dining room was completely full of people sitting on the tables which surrounded our dinner in the middle. One table after another went to the buffet which had a huge variety of fish, meat, salad and vegetables. As a vegetarian you got a special plate with lasagna. Hot drinks and water were free, other drinks could be purchased at the bar. The atmosphere was lively and I was so full I couldn’t believe that the dessert was ready.
At the end of the dinner a band was performing famous songs and made everyone sing along.
One of the guests, an elderly man turned 80 the very same night, so the band performed happy birthday in English and Maori for him. On top of that he got a very delicious looking cake.
At about 9pm we got back to our bus which took us back to our accommodation. Like our bus driver had announced before every nationality in the bus had to sing a typical song of their country. I sang “Alle meine Entchen” even though I am not sure if that is typically German.
As a last surprise our bus driver took us around a roundabout, but not only once, no, he drove around it ca. 6 times. I was so glad that no one had to throw up after the rich dinner.
When I was dropped off the bus driver said goodbye with a typical Maori Hongi and a typical German “Auf Wiedersehen!” What a nice evening.