Family Kiwidutch are staying at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua and have been able to go to one of the Hotel restaurants to sample a tradional Maori Hangi (food cooked in the ground).
After the dinner there is also a small Maori display of dance and song and Himself and I think this would be a perfect opportunity to introduce our kids to Maori culture.
Since my roots are in the South Island (where traditionally only 5% of the Maori population live) I have to confess that my exposure to Maori culture is probably more limited than it should be.
Painfully aware of this deficit, I’ve determined to learn more and to expose my children to any Maori experiences we can manage… so the chance to see more is welcomed even if it is a bit of a ”touristic” view.
Back at home in the Netherlands,Little Mr.and Himself have been attempting to learn the words and actions of the Haka over the last year, an enterprise (especially on Little Mr’s part) sometimes filled with more good intent, face-pulling, noise and enthusiasm than actual accuracy.
I’ve often had to pretend that tears of laughter were actually tears of fear due to the fervour of their warrior ‘intimidation” but the fact remains that the sight of a “Maori” battle force that consists soley of a 196 cm (6’5″) Dutchman accompanied by a short six year old skinny kid stamping their feet and beating their chests and thighs and shouting “Ka Mate Ka Mate” (“it is death, it is death” (pronounced: “car ma tay”) as loud as they can, is more likley to assult your funny bone and give you temours of the mirthful kind, than to make you shake with fear and instill terror to your heart.
Here in Rotorua they can see how it’s really done and to our delight, not only do we get a little show, the performers are also quick to involve the audience… first a young Korean man gets called up onto the stage to be presented with his (pre-arranged) Birthday cake and to receive a “Hongi” (a traditional greeting that involves touching of noses and sharing of breath) and much to the mirth of the rest of his tour party the guy is first timid until he understands what actions are required of him and then gets so enthusiastic that it almost turns what’s supposed to be a very gentle touch, into a head-butt.
Next the ladies were invited up to learn a Poi dance… well not the dance really, just some Poi actions and Kiwi Daughter went up and gave it a go.
One thing is certain, it looks easy but it definiately is not, she gave it a galent effort as did the other ladies who were also fast discovering that their hand-eye co-ordination skills needed a great deal of fine tuning. They laughed as hard as everyone else at it all and it was great fun.
A little later the men and boys are invited onto the stage to learn a Haka, Little Mr, so full of bravado and noise at home suddenly clings to me in total shyness whilst Himself gleefully goes up and gives it his best shot.
Some visiting Australian tourists (several guys and their sons) make a good attempt too but the most entertaining buy far on the night were several older Korean and Japanese men who had a great deal of enthusiasm but very little coordination at following along in time with the rest of the groups movements and who’s chanted words resembled the actual Maori ones only insofar as they were sounds issued from their vocal chords… not just their group but the entire place were wiping away tears of mirth as they tried seriously and heroically to do a Haka but failed miserably.
They took it all in excellent spirit and beamingly returned to their seats to great applause.
Afterwards some of the peformers came out and posed with the guests so the Kiwidutch family album sports some very amusing family photographs.
All in all we have had an excellent time this evening, great food, entertaining entertainment and a very small but enjoyable introduction to Maori culture. I took a few video’s and posted them to You Tube but have been less successful getting them to link properly in this post… Do you see clickable links below that consist for strange number /letter combinations or do you see real You Tube “frames”? At least when I tried, clicking the link took me to the video… I hope it does the same for you.