Hongi and Hangi
The good thing of travelling is that you meet interesting characters and learn a bit about other cultures. You have to deal with other habits, other food and different languages. It is a mind opener. You get a different, better look at the world. It's makes you rich! One of the things we pick up in daily life is some words from the local language. We learned a few Maori words but after a while we talk like Kiwi's with their flatty English.
A chat on a parking place:
Kiwi: Whur u up to?
BB: To the wopwops, grab some metal roads.
Kiwi: Good on ya. Is he yu cuzzie?
BB: Yep, he's my bro.
Kiwi: Cool. 'r the bikes holdin?
BB: Yeah, no worries, 180.000k's and still going strong.
Kiwi: Awesome, wanna Steinie?
BB: No thanks mate, w've to ride.
After a long day of winding roads we find a nice spot to camp near Waitomo. Nearby is a waterfall where we walk to. We descend on a steep, slippery trail through a dense jungle. We reach the pool where the waterfall in plunges and the spray cools us down. We sit down and listen to the 'thundering' sound of the falling water. It's relaxing. In this area are a lot of caves where glowworms live. In the evening we enter a cave and when our eyes are used to the dark we see thousands little lights. Just like a milky way at a bright night. Choice! Glowworms are larvae of the fungus gnat and are about one centimeter long and a millimeter thick. they have a luminescent organ that produces a soft green light. Hanging on the rocks they weave sticky threads to catch unwary insects attracted by their lights. It is not allowed to shine a torch on them because they will dim their lights and it will take hours to become bright again. During this time the glowworm will catch no food. The glowworms that shine most brightly are the hungriest. This is more friendly then crying babies...
A couple of days we are guests at Nigel and Kitty and they take us to their Maori friend Vincent. Vincent is a woodcarver. In a very exciting way he explains the carving symbols and how to make them. Woodcarving was very important to the Maori because they had no written history. His art collection covers tiny figures till war canoes of some meters. Vincent felt a certain "vibe" among us and gives a "koha". This is a gift and is custom in the Maori culture. We receive a special "tiki" necklace for good protection.
Typical Maori wood carving with Moko style
We became more interested in the Maori culture and visit Tamaki village. This is a replica of a Maori village how they lived in ancient times. Many Maori tribes were warlike and for a better defense they built their villages on hill tops and surrounded it with fences of trees and wood carved guarding statues.
When we want to enter the village a Maori guard, dressed in a cloak made of dog fur and feathers, jumps in front of us and make a "Haka". This dance comes with fierce shouting, flexing arm movements with a spear, thunderous stamping and showing his tongue. It is a frightening sight and is done to chase unwanted visitors away. But we come in peace and may enter. A Maori woman makes a "Hongi". This is a traditional greeting where noses are twice pressed together and share the breath of life.
"Haka", a Maori greeting
Maori village Tamaki
Higher classes and warriors decorated themselves with "Moko". This is a tattoo where they made incisions with chisels of bone and color it with charcoal. Women only had Moko on their chin and lips, while high-ranking men had tattoos over their entire face and buttocks. The Maori had no natural painkiller so this was a very painful ritual. They show us around the village and demonstrate some music instruments and weapons. After the tour we get a "Hangi". This traditional Maori kitchen exist of chicken or fish, kumara (sweet potato) and some vegetables. They put it all together in baskets, put it in a hole in the ground with hot stones and steam it ready till it is cooked. They call this "Hangi". It is a healthy BBQ. Bon appetite.