New Zealand 1

New Zealand 1On Sunday (May 9) we went to the Te Puea Marae, a common meeting area for the native Maori people in urban Auckland. We were welcomed through one of their formal ceremonies which included singing, dancing and speeches from some of the elders and a few of our members as well. The whole ceremony was completely different from any experience I’ve ever had. The Maori were intimidating, funny and intense. It was a very confusing time for me emotionally, I was scared but at the same time so entertained. After the ceremony the Maori performed some more dances and songs for us including the famous Haka dance that their warriors did before battle. The Maorie men teach our guys some traditional dance steps After the entertainment we went outside and watched them uncover an array of meat from a hangi, a pit dug in the ground and filled with hot rocks and covered with burlap sacks.  We then went inside and enjoyed an amazing meal which consisted of, but was not limited to lamb, pork, and chicken from the hangi; mixed vegetables, baked pumpkin, potatoes and yams. The dinner was phenomenal and was probably a highlight of the trip. After dinner a Maori woman shared a story with us. That night we slept around the outside of the large communal room like a big slumber party, it was good.

-Jason Marner, Kelby Miller, Andrea Yoder

Students exploring Ark in the Park, a New Zealand rainforest Today, Wednesday May 12, we encountered our first day of rain. We are at still at Kodesh, which is an intentional Christian community, and my home stay is a bit of a walk away. As I started my walk the sun was just coming up. The wind was howling and I was up early enough to grab a coffee and sit with some locals in the town of Avondale. It started to drizzle when I got up to Craddock St, where Kodesh is located. Kodesh is a lot like the first community we stayed in. It is peaceful and centered around community. Breakfast and dinner are shared with a blend of international students and local Kodesh residents.

After breakfast today we all piled into our vans and took off for ‘Ark in the Park’. The Ark in the Park is a reserve that was established to reintroduce and maintain many of New Zealand’s fauna and vegetation that has been under stress or even threatened with extinction. This reserve has also been a site for trapping of rats, mice, weasels, and stoats. New Zealand fauna has been terribly affected by the introduction of rodents and other land mammals. This reserve and its volunteers/employees are devoted to help bring back and preserve some of New Zealand’s native birds.  The rain started to come in waves and without rain jackets and rain pants our day would have miserable. Luckily we were able to see a New Zealand Robin and a HiHi (or “stitch bird”). We spend the morning and early afternoon going through the park and observed tons of different trees and other vegetation.

After Ark in the Park, we embarked onto our afternoon activity. We arrived at Earthsong Eco-Neighborhood around 3:00 PM. Earthsong is a completely different type of intentional community when compared to Kodesh. Earthsong was established by a group of couples and individuals who were passionate about living environmentally and socially sustainable. The property and buildings were amazing. Small communities like this do exist back in the states but I have never seen a community so involved with the social aspect. We headed back to Kodesh for dinner. The day was long but packed full of great things.

-Sam Berenstain