New Zealand – Northern Island – Maori Village

RO: Mai dar de ce s-or fi plans si Abel Tasman si James Cook de maorii cei aprigi si neprimitori, de tropaitul de picioare, de ochii bulbucati si de limbile scoase? Pana una alta, cine-a venit intai si-ntai in Tara Norului Lung si Alb? Nu maorii cei neinfricati, indemanatici si exceptionali navigatori? Pai nu au strabatut ei jumatate de Pacific ca sa vina taman din Polinezia cu canoele lor uriase de lemn (waka cum le spun maorii), prin valurile inspumate si fioroase ale oceanului? Nu au ocupat ei teritoriile ascunse ale Noii Zeelande, inainte sa ajunga piciorus de explorator european? Si-atunci cum sa nu-si apere tarisoara cea verde si plina de jad si aur de orice cotropitor din capatul celalalt al Pamantului? Pai nu e renumit proverbul maor care-si indeamna poporul sa apere fiecare omulet in parte? “Care este cel mai important lucru din lume? Oamenii, oamenii, oamenii!

EN: Well, well, well… Why did Abel Tasman and James Cook complained about the fierce and inhospitable Maori people, about their clump, their protruding eyes or stretching out their tongues? In the end, who came first here, in the Land of the Long White Cloud? Weren’t the fearless Maori people, skillful and exceptional navigators? Haven’t they crossed half of the Pacific to come just from Polynesia with their huge wooden canoes (waka as they call them), through the churning waves of the ocean? Haven’t they occupied the hidden territories of New Zealand, before any European explorer arrived to this place? And then… how could they not defend their green country, full of jade and gold, from any kind of invader from across the world? Well we all know the Maori proverb that advice its people to protect each and every single person: “What is the most important thing in this world? To me, it is people, it is people, it is people”.
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RO: Si-acum intre noi fie vorba, o fi insula sudica asul din maneca poporului kiwian in materie de peisaje, insa cand vine vorba de cultura maora, insula nordica castiga detasat. Iar in Rotorua e nebunie curata cu satele maore. Ba alegi o vizita la familia Mitai, sa vezi show-ul spectaculos cu canoa printre ape, de zici c-ai nimerit in mijlocul migratiei polineze, sau de ce nu, pe la Tamaki. Ba un tur la satul Te Puia sau The Living Maori Village, ambele situate in mijlocul nebuniei geotermale din jurul geyserului Pohutu. Apropo, cel mai mare geyser activ din toataaaaa emisfera sudica! Fiecare sat are ceva deosebit de oferit, asa ca pan’ la urma totul depinde de bugetul si timpul fiecarui turist. Cum totul in Noua Zeelanda e de la foarte scump in sus, niciunul dintre sate nu este ieftin (ba chiar deloc!), insa cel de la Whakarewarewa este decent la cei 35 NZD de persoana, comparand cu cei 50 NZD pentru Te Puia, sau si mai si, 120 NZD pentru Tamaki sau Mitai. Ce-i drept, difera spectacolul fiecarui sat si unele dintre ele contin si masa traditionala gatita in pamant, hangi-ul.

EN: And now between you and me, maybe the southern island is the ace up the sleeve of the Kiwi people when it comes to landscapes, but if we talk about Maori culture, the northern island wins the battle. And in Rotorua there is a total madness with the Maori villages. You can either choose a visit at the Mitai family, to see the spectacular show with the canoe on the water – as if one would have arrived right in the middle of the Polynesian migration, or why not, at the Tamaki village. A tour in the Te Puia or The Living Maori Village, both of them situated in the middle of all that geothermal madness around Pohutu geyser. By the way, this is the biggest active geyser in the entire southern hemisphere! Each village has something special to offer, so in the end it all comes down to the budget and time each tourist has. We already know that everything in New Zealand is extremely expensive, so none of the villages is cheap to see (actually on the contrary!), but the one from Whakarewarewa is quite decent at 35 NZD, at least compared to those 50 NZD for Te puia or even worse than that, 120 NZD for Tamaki or Mitai. It is true that the shows are different in every village and some of them also contain the traditional meal hangi, cooked under the ground.
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RO: Insa adevarul e ca bietul hangi nu arata prea apetisant. Si nici gustul nu e prea grozav. De fapt, care gust?! Legumele si carnea sunt puse toate la un loc, apoi gatite intr-un cuptor in pamant, la izvoarele termale. Nu tu condimente, nu tu nimic, totul se gateste la abur, si e o amestecatura de carne si legume aburite. Un pic de cartofi albi (riwai), niste cartofi dulci (kumara), si-o ciudatenie pe post de carbohidrati: o combinatie nu prea gustoasa de firimituri de paine, ceva ierburi, boabe de porumb, morcovi si mazare. Dar e mancarea maorilor, gatita in cuptorul cu microunde subteran cum se amuza ei si era musai sa o incercam in Rotorua! Cea mai populara cina traditionala e clar cea de la showurile traditionale, cu dansuri si spectacol maor. Atata doar ca iti cam vinzi un rinichi si jumatate ca sa participi la un show care cuprinde tot “cultural performance“-ul, cum il numesc ei, si cina de la final. Asa ca varianta doi, muuuult mai ieftina si mai eficienta (pentru ca sansele de a nu fi tocmai incantat de gustul hangi-ul sunt mari), ar fi un take-away de pe marginea drumului, unde cu 10 dolari neozeelandezi te-alegi cu ditai casoleta de aburitura la pachet. Iar Kiwi Kai din Rotorua ar cam fi compromisul perfect. Macar nu pleci din Noua Zeelanda fara sa incerci mancarurile traditionale. Nu de alta, dar daca marmita nu ne-a placut, macar sa dam o sansa hangi-ului 🙂

EN: Truth is that poor hangi does not look tempting at all. And the taste is not so great either. Actually… what taste?! Vegetables and meat are all put together, then cooked in an earth oven, at the geothermal springs. No condiments, no nothing, everything is steamed and it’s just a mixture of meat and steamed vegetables. A bit of white potatoes (riwai), some sweet potatoes (kumara) and a weird kind of carbohydrates, a non so tasty mixture of bread crumbles, some herbs, corn, carrots and peas. But this is the Maori food, cooked in the underground microwaves oven as they like to call it, and we had to try it in Rotorua! The most popular dinner is by far the one from the traditional shows, with all the dancing and Maori show. Just that all those cultural performances are really expensive. So second option, a way muuuuch cheaper and more efficient one (because chances to not enjoy the hangi are quite high) would be the take-away from the side way, where you only pay 10 NZD to get a huge casserole of steamed food. And Kiwi Kai from Rotorua would be the perfect compromise. At least you’re not leaving New Zealand without trying the local foods. We haven’t liked the marmite, so the least we can do it to give some credit to this hangi 🙂
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RO: Bun, dar revenind la oile noastre 🙂 Nu vrem hangi inclus in tur, asa ca alegem Whakarewarewa The Living Maori Village. Nu de alta, dar am citit ca ar fi si mult mai putin comercial si turistic ca celelalte sate maore din Rotorua. Iar dupa experientele de pe la Milford Sound si Hooker Valley, unde se venea cu cardu’ de autocare de turisti, parca am prefera ceva mai intim si mai putin comercial. Sa intelegem si noi cum sta treaba cu tinutul Lumii de Jos, Rarohenga, cum ii spun maorii. The Underworld cum gasesti in tot internetul! Un fel de lume ideala, un Avatar al timpurilor demult apuse, acolo unde Hine-nui-te-po, Zeita Intunericului si a Mortii tinea fraiele zeitatilor maore. Pai nu ea a dat nastere faimoaselor legende (purakau) care stau la baza culturii maore?!

EN: Ok, but let’s get back to our story 🙂 We don’t want to have hangi included in our tour, so we’re choosing Whakarewarewa The Living Maori Village. We read that this is less commercial and touristy than the rest of the villages in Rotorua, and after the experiences from Milford Sound or Hooker Valley, where there were buses of tourists coming to see the attractions, we would really prefer something a bit more intimate. We have to finally understand what’s all the fuss about The Underworld, Rarohenga as the Maori call it! A kind of ideal world, an Avatar of the old times where Hine-nui-te-po, the Goddess of Dark and Death, used to rule the Maori gods. Isn’t she actually the one that started the famous Maori legends (purakau) that are actually the basis of the Maori culture? 🙂
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RO: Si n-om fi avut noi norocu’ sa vedem primul haka pe stadion, la un meci de rugby al celor de la All Blacks, dar am vazut unul taman de la mama lui de-acasa de la maori. Da-i cu batai de palme pe picioare, tropaieli violente in podea si schimonosiri (pukana cum le numesc maorii) care mai de care mai nefotogenice. Ba ochi bulbucati de stau sa iasa din orbite, ba scosul limbii, ba urlete de zici ca se porneste un razboi. Asta in cazul barbatilor, pentru ca femeile au alte reactii 🙂 Si-anume bulbucatul ochilor si scoaterea in evidenta a barbiei tatuate cu ta moko. Pai pana una alta, la ce se folosea haka daca nu pentru intimidat inamicii inainte de razboi? Si pregatit fizic, mental si spiritual pentru batalie? “Rasuflarea de foc“, cum ar veni traducerea hakai, iti ridica parul de pe maini cand o vezi si asculti. De fapt si de drept, intreaga cultura maora e pur si simplu impresionanta!

EN: And maybe we weren’t lucky enough to see our first haka dance on the stadium, during an All Blacks rugby game, but we’ve seen one at the Maori village. And there you have clapping, violent tramping in the floor and all kind of grimaces (pukana as the Maori people call them) each of them more and more scary. Either eye widening as they seem to pop in every second, either some stretching out of the tongues or screaming as if a war would start. That’s for men, because women have other reactions 🙂 And those are widening the eyes and jutting out their tattooed chin. In the end, what was haka used for if not for intimidating the enemies before the war? And also for physically, mentally and spiritually preparing the people for battle. “The breath of fire” as the haka translation would mean, it simply sends us shivers up our spine when we hear it and see it. Actually, the entire Maori culture is simply impressive! 
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RO: Insa haka nu e singura manifestare artistica prin dans a maorilor. No, nicidecum. Mai au si waiata-a-ringa, care se diferentiaza de haka prin miscari circulare ale mainilor (wiri cum le spun ei) pentru a simboliza fie valurile apelor, valurile de caldura ori vantul care misca frunzele copacilor. Sau dansul poi in sincron, realizat de cele mai multe ori doar de femei, cu acele mingi prinse de coarda. Oricat de robust ar suna, dansul e incredibil de gratios 🙂

EN: But haka is not the only artistic Maori dance performance. No, absolutely not. They also have the waiata-a-ringa, which is different by the haka because it has those circular hand moves (wiri as they call them) that symbolize the shimmering waters, the heat waves or the wind that moves the leaves of the trees. Or the poi dance, usually made only by women, the one with those balls on a chord. No matter how robust this would sound, the dance is incredibly graceful.
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RO: A, si tatuajele! Pai ce credeam noi, ca oricarui maor ii vine ideea sa isi tatueze fata cap-coada, o poate face asa, oricand, oriunde? Ei bine nu, tatuajele nu sunt o alegere, ci o onoare. Trebuie sa fii ales de catre tribul si familia ta sa poti purta ta moko, tatuajul tipic maor. E o dovada de respect si recunoastere in cadrul tribului, pe care multi o castiga mai dupa prima tinerete 🙂 Iar fiecare model de tatuaj e diferit in functie de purtator, tribul din care face parte si realizarile lui in viata. Iar cele cu adevarat traditionale sunt tatuajele facute folosind metodele vechi de cand lumea, un fel de ciocan care lasa pielea imprimata si texturata. Asta spre deosebire de metodele moderne care lasa pielea fina. Barbatii obisnuiesc sa isi tatuaze toata fata, femeile insa doar buzele si barbia. Din pacate insa obiceiul acesta devine din ce in ce mai rar, avand in vedere influentele moderne ale societatii.

EN: Aaaah, and the tattooes! Wat have we thought, that anyone who wants to make a tatoo on his/her face can do it just like this, anytime, anywhere? Well, no, the tattoos are not a choice but an honor. You have to be chosen by your tribe and family to wear a ta moko, the typical Maori tattoo. It’s a proof of respect and recognition within the tribe and many people earn this after they pass their prime. And each and every single tattoo is different, depending on the one who wears it, the tribe he/she belongs to and his/hers accomplishments in life. And the ones that are truly traditional are made using old methods, with a kind of hammer and chisel that leaves the skin textured and printed. Unlike the modern technique that leaves the skin smooth. Men usually tattoo their entire face, women only their chin and lips. Unfortunately, this habit has become not so common among the Maori people, taking into consideration the modern influences of the society.

Ta Moko_Maori Tattoo_1
Photo Source: http://www.newzealand.com

RO: Si uite c-avem noroc de ghid amuzant la Whakarewarewa, ca doar de, pana si maorii au mostenit umorul exploratorilor britanici. Pesemne ca e contagios! Si-ncepem cu lectiile de dictie. Whakarewarewa pare cam alambicat si muuult, dar mult prea lung pana si pentru un suflet de neozeelandez, daramite pentru un romanas venit taman din capatul celalalt al lumii. Asa ca-l prescurtam la Whaka. Primim atentionare sa nu care cumva sa pronuntam “faka“, c-o dam intr-altele. Buuun, si-apoi slava cerului ca de ceva vreme avem pod sa trecem peste izvorul termal si s-ajungem direct in sat. Nu de alta, dar pe vremurile cand nu era, gazdele isi carau oaspetii in carca ca sa-i treaca apa 🙂 Simpatici si tare primitori acesti membri ai tribului Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao (25 de familii) – de mai bine de 200 de ani tot primesc oaspeti in ograda lor – foarte bine pazita de altfel de tot soiul de statui cu rol de protectori si gardieni ai satului.

EN: And looks like we have a funny guide here at Whakarewarew – looks like the Maori people have inherited the good sense of humor from the British explorers 🙂 Looks like this is quite contagious! And we’re starting with our diction lessons. Whakarewarewa seems to be a bit too tangled and waaaaaay, way too long even for a New Zealander soul, not to mention for a Romanian that has crossed the world to get here. So well shorten it to Whaka. Just be cautious not to pronounce it “faka” 😀 Ooook and thanks God we have a bridge to cross the thermal spring and get right into the village. Some time ago, when this wasn’t here, the hosts were carrying the guests on their back to cross them over the water 🙂 Quite cute and welcoming these members of the Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao tribe (25 families) – for more than 200 years they are receiving guests in their well protected village by all kind of statues that are used as guardians 🙂
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RO: Si uite asa aflam de Parekohuru (un fel de bolboroseli criminale in traducere) si Korotiotio (un fel de… grumpy man haha), foste geysere active, folosite pentru gatit. Nu orice gatit, ci doar legume, pentru ca orice tip de carne are grasime, care in contact cu apa bolborosinda creaza o reactie chimica ce o poate contamina. Nu-i bai, facem un porumb fiert in doi timpi si trei miscari 🙂 Si apropo, cica ambele piscine nu au fund, iar pe masura ce cobori, temperatura este si mai ridicata. O ultima plimbare pe lacul Roto-a-Tamaheke (printre miros de sulf de ne taie respiratia) si dusi suntem. E deja ora 5 si locuitorii satului vor sa termine cu vizitele turistilor, nu de alta, dar trebuie sa-si faca baia in aer liber, la apus 🙂 Pai ce credeam ca apa calda din piscina termale nu e folosita la intregul sau potential? Si-acum ne zboara gandul la piscinele roz si albe din Noua Zeelanda, care inainte de a fi distruse de eruptia vulcanului Tarawera in 1886, au fost considerate a opta minune a lumii. Cum o fi fost sa te scalzi in minunile acelea formate din geyserele bolborosinde? Apa lor racita, bogata in siliciu, se cristalizase si a format treptele si mini cascadele. Un fel de Pamukkale turcesc, insa infinit mai frumos si mai impresionant. Insa vesti bune anul 2011 are 🙂 Pare-se ca cercetatorii au descoperit in 2011 o parte din terasele roz undeva in apele lacului Rotomahana! So there is hope! 🙂

EN: And that’s how we find out about Parekohuru (a kind of murderous ripples in translation) and Korotiotio (a kind of… grumpy man haha), dormant geysers, nowadays used for cooking. Not any kind of cooking, just vegetables because meat has fat which in contact with the bubbling water creates a chemical reaction which can contaminate it. No problem, we’ll have some boiled corn in no time. And by the way, both pools have no bottom, and the temperature becomes higher and higher as you get further and further. One last walk on the Roto-a-Tamaheke lake (through that terrible smell of sulfur) and we’re ready to go. It’s already 5 o’clock in the evening and the dwellers of the village would like to finish all the touristic visits – they need to do that outdoor bathing at sunset 🙂 What have we thought, that the Maori people are not using the thermal pools at their full potential? And now we’re thinking about those Pink and White Terraces from New Zealand, that before the eruption on the Tarawera volcano in 1886 have been considered the eighth wonder of the world. It must have been really great to bath in those gorgeous pools formed by the hot geysers. Their cooled water, rich in silica, crystallized and formed the steps and mini waterfalls. A kind of Turkish Pamukkale but way more beautiful and impressive. Buuut guess what, seems like the scientists have discovered in 2011 a part of the Pink Terraces somewhere in the Rotomahana lake. So there is hope!
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RO: Una peste alta, asa cum Muntele Cook este iconic pentru insula de sud, asa si experienta intr-un sat maor este cum nu se poate mai reprezentativa insulei de nord. De la dansurile traditionale, cantat, cioplit in lemn, arta tatuajelor pana la bucataria traditionala, legendele maore sau limba autentica, toate definesc poporul neo-zeelandez, chiar daca populatia maora reprezinta sub 20% din intreaga populatie a tarii. Si adevarul e ca abia acum, dupa ce-am umplut un articol intreg despre maori, realizam cat este de complexa cultura lor. Cum pun pret pe bunatate si ospitalitate (asa numita manaakitanga), cum isi respecta vizitatorii (kaitiakitanga). Nici nu-i de mirare ca acestea sunt principiile de baza in strategia de turism a Noii Zeelande. Si-acum, la final, va salutam in mod traditional cu un hongi 🙂 Nu, nu, nu vorbim de hangi, fiertura deloc gustoasa, ci de salutul specific maorilor, prin care cei doi oameni isi lipesc nasul si fruntea in acelasi timp 🙂 Seamana un pic cu salutul eskimosilor 😛

EN: All in all, just like Mount Cook is iconic for the southern island, the experience in a Maori village is probably the most representative for the northern island. From the traditional dances, singing, carving, from the art of the tattoos to the traditional cuisine, the Maori legends or the authentic language, all of these define the New Zealanders, even if the Maori people represent less than 20% from the entire country’s population. And the truth is that only now, after we’ve written a whole article about the Maori people, we realize how complex their culture is. How they cherish the kindness and hospitality (the so called manaakitanga) or how they respect their visitors (kaitiakitanga). No wonder these two are the basis of the tourism strategy in New Zealand. And now, at the end, we’ll salute you with the traditional hongi 🙂 No, no, we’re not talking about the hangi, the boiled dish not at all tasty, but about the typical greeting the Maori use, by pressing their nose and forehead at the same time 🙂 It looks a little bit similar to the Eskimo salute 🙂  
Maori Hongi

Photo Source: http://www.trpsavvy.com/what-is-a-hongi-1464086

 

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