Introduction to the Maori

17 June 2015

Today we visited the Mangere Domain and Auckland Museum. I love learning about historical people and places, so this was right up my alley. It was really helpful to be able to talk directly to descendants of a Maori tribe and hear about their history from their perspective. Jane Matthews demonstrating flax weaving.50Practicing the powhiri (welcome ritual) with them was definitely a new experience, but I am learning to embrace new things. I am also excited to do a real powhiri when we go to a Marae.

One of my favorite parts of today was hearing about the hangi and the Maori “pantry” and then seeing a model of it in the Auckland Museum. This helped me to better imagine what life may have been like. In addition, I was amazed that they built their houses on terraces. It is hard to imagine because over time they have been worn away and skinny now.

I was very intrigued to hear the story about Hapi (the original tribe leader) catching a ride on a giant sting ray from Haiwaiki to beat his people to New Zealand who left him behind. I was surprised at how seriously our guide, Kylie, took this story. She assured us that it was a true story which was hard for me to believe. It struck me that we all have our beliefs, and they may be different but they are all meaningful and sacred, or tapu. This is just another way that my eyes are being opened and I am being challenged.

The museum helped me to get a visual of what I had read before we came and what we heard at Mangere Mountain. It is hard for me to imagine what someone describes to me sometimes, so being able to see what was being described was extremely helpful. For example, going to the meeting house and seeing the carvings and the weavings, and seeing the waka (canoe) and being able to put it to scale. Both of these things gave me a better understanding of what we have been learning recently.

-Michelle Sauder