A Cultural Experience
We’re going for a cultural experience today after the fun and frolics from our adventure cruise in the previous blog. There is a huge cultural undertone to both Australia and New Zealand and as this blog series goes on, we’ll be learning a little bit more about the Aborigines and Maori culture. In today’s post, I want to share the Maori experience I had at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds before some natural scenery at the Whangarei Falls on the way back down to Auckland.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
About a 5 minute drive away from Paihia is the Waitangi Treaty Grounds which is pretty well known across New Zealand due to its significance in European settlement and where the Treaty was signed between Britain and the Maori Chiefs in 1836. The Maoris put up a good fight as they defended their country and wouldn’t take colonisation lying down (why would you, they were on this land first and had a means to defend themselves). However, this came at a great cost to both sides in terms of human life and it was decided to sign a peace treaty known as the Waitangi Treaty.
A name you’ll hear a lot is “James Busby” who was the “British Resident in New Zealand” and tasked with drafting up the treaty between New Zealand and Great Britain in 1833. This meant that he basically set the law in Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand) and all the present day jurisdiction comes from the work Busby did back in the 1830s [Source].
The Treaty itself didn’t sit too well with a few of the Moari chiefs but some came around to sign it eventually. Although it’s still debated as to whether all the chiefs signed this treaty and whether or not they were told the full story of what they were signing up to (considering it was translated from English in to Maori with the “best interests of both countries at heart”).
On this guided tour, you also get shown around the “world’s largest ceremonial war canoe” (called “waka”) and I have to say, it is pretty big! Remember from the previous blog, we talked about the giant Kauri trees? Well, they were used to create these huge wooden canoes with amazing carvings of the Maori ancestors whom they believed would protect them as they sailed the torrid seas in them. In fact, they still have one of the trunks right next to the canoe so you can see just how big it was, estimates are it’s around 800 years old.
As you get to the end of the guided tour, you’ll be welcomed in to the Meeting House by a Maori female who will set the tone. There’s a brief outside ceremony before you get to have an amazing cultural experience inside. You can take pictures but no videos during the ceremony but out of respect, I’ll only share the pictures I took after the ceremony finished so you can see how it looks on the inside. You learn about the history of how they made tools, musical instruments and what they did for entertainment back in the days of no smart phones (yes, there was such a time 😛 ).
So as you can see, you get a lot for your entry fee. For adults who aren’t from New Zealand, a day pass here costs $50NZD whereas it will cost $25NZD if you are from New Zealand. Children under 18 can enter for free but must be accompanied by an adult. What the day pass gets you is a guided tour with a local tribesman which lasts about 50 minutes to an hour as he takes you around the grounds. You also get a Maori cultural performance in their meeting house and access to the museum, cafe and freedom to walk around the grounds themselves. I recommend it and if you’re planning on visiting, more information can be found here.
There’s enough at the Treaty Grounds to keep you busy for around half a day but you could spend longer looking around the museum and tourist shop to get some gifts. However, our group tour needed to go on and this involved heading back down Highway 1 to Auckland. About an hour south of Paihia, we stopped off at Whangarei Falls. These are textbook “curtain waterfalls” that are 26 metres tall and a 10 minute walk from the car park. The falls stem from the Hatea River as part of the Whangarei Scenic Reserve and, if you wanted to, you can even go for a swim here [Source]! We decided to just do the walk around it 😉
“Hairy” Moment Of The Day
Well, it seems that the tour company needs to look after their buses a bit more as the first one (yes, that’s right, we went through 3 buses on this 3 and a half week trip!) somehow made it back to Auckland despite averaging around 20km per hour going up the hills on the way back. It just lost its power as we were making our way back so it aggravated a few… well… a LOT of traffic that was stuck behind us on the uphills! Maybe a bit of the engine went for a swim in the Falls and we left it behind… who knows!
Still, we managed to get to an ice cream parlour and our tour guide informed us that Tip Top ice cream was THE best to have. So I did… there’s one SBI available for the first person to guess what flavours I went for in the comments below (there’s 2 flavours) 😉 More information on Tip Top here but they make damn good ice cream!
That’s all for today folks! I hope you enjoyed this cultural excursion today, a brief trip to the waterfalls and “tip topped” it all off with an ice cream, yummy!
See you in the next one and as always, take it easy!
PHC Top 3 – A Chance To Win From A Growing Prize Pool
Well, whilst I’m here, I might as well take the chance to tell you about a new contest that I’ve been a part of with the Power House Creatives called @phctop3. All you need to do is tell us what your top 3 favourites for a chance to win from a growing prize pool – more info here.