I spent Friday night at a Marae, a traditional Maori village and meeting place. The visit was largely formal and we had to partake in rituals such as taking our shoes off before entering the Marae, multiple church services, and the hangi (touching noses). When we arrived, we had to be welcomed on to the Marae by the Wharae (elder woman). She sang out a calling as the group of 80 students slowly walked towards the building we would be spending the night in. After we arrived, they gave us a formal welcome in te reo Maori, and we had two student representatives speak for us and acknowledge the fact that we came in peace. We sang the song we learned on the bus, and then learned a new song to sing for the church service, all in Maori. The Maoris conducted
When our dinner was ready, we went in the cafeteria area. It was a huge buffet style meal with lots of very good food. Some things that stick out were a pink potato salad, three kinds of shaved meat, muscles, and traditional Maori bread that is homemade. The food was delicious, and they fed us so much all weekend!
After dinner, we had an entertainment night, which was one of my favourite parts of the weekend. Students from each country formed a group and presented the way to say hello, a fun fact, and a song, all country-specific. It was so interesting to see all the different countries that were represented among the students. Some were Japan, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Germany, Sweden, Scandinavia, New Zealand, The Kingdom of Tonga, and more. They served us some cake for tea and we hung out and chatted for a while before bed.
We woke up at 6 the next morning to have a church service. We said prayers and sang songs in Maori. After the service they gave us a huge breakfast with cereal, sausages, peaches, toast, scrambled eggs, potatoes and pumpkin. After breakfast we played two Maori games. The first one, you held a stick vertical and traded sticks right or left depending on the maori word used. If your stick fell, you were out. The next one was a game using hand gestures and passing different words around the circle. They were both really fun and probably my favourite part of the weekend.
Next, we had a language tutorial. All of the things they taught us, we have already started studying in my Maori language class, but it was a good refresher. We did the pepeha (introduction) in front of the whole group. After, they fed us morning tea which consisted of tea, hot chocolate, coffee, cake, and fruit.
Then we split the group into male and female. The guys learned a Haka, and the girls learned the Poi. It is a dance/song while you're swinging a little ball on a rope. It was so much fun to learn the dance. At first it was really hard to get certain motions down, but the dance turned out really good. It was awesome to watch the boys do the haka as well.
They fed us a huge lunch that was by far the best meal of the weekend. There were leftovers of the sliced meat, salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, garlic bread, fish soufflé, and muscle fritters (AMAZING). Everyone I was sitting with wanted to take the fritters back with us because they were so good.
Lastly, we had a couple representatives from our group thank the maori and they gave us a formal goodbye. The Marae visit was one of the coolest things I've done in New Zealand. It was so interesting. There wasn't a dull moment.