All Hail Chief Woody of the Huia (pronounced hoo-e-ya) tribe!!
Obviously that’s not me in the above picture, but that is how I felt during my time at the Tamaki Maori village we visited.
The bus picked us up (like the royalty I am) at the front door of the Ibis hotel where Steph and I managed to find a room (see Steph) without booking it weeks ago. Haha
The bus picks up few other folks and then makes a quick pit stop at home base to gather the rest of the group. Our bus says “Huia” along the side which makes us the Huia Tribe. The driver also informs us that the traditional greeting in New Zealand is Kia Ora, which means hello, greetings, good health, farewell, and goodbye. Kinda like aloha in Hawaiian or dude in Californian.
My inauguration as Chief happened fairly unceremoniously. No conquering of villainous hordes or 2-day hero’s parade. No. Our bus driver simply asked for a volunteer. Now, I’ve been called a lot of things, but shy was never one of them. So I raised my hand, and out of everyone else on the bus, the driver chose me. I feel like a major deciding factor to our drivers great decision to choose me was the fact that I was the only one who raised my hand. A win by default is still a win. So I become Chief Woody of the Huia tribe.
When we arrive at the village our driver goes over a few rules. Take all the photos and videos we like but no talking, smiling, or laughing while the opening ceremonies are happening. As Chief I am supposed to stand in front of my tribe with my hands visible, no smiling, and never breaking eye contact. If and when I am presented with a peace offering (in my case a fern that represents the land) I am to pick up the offering and back away. You are not to turn your back to them. The main Chief makes a quick speech welcoming everyone and then we do what is referred to as a “Hangi”. You place your left hand on the shoulder of the Chief and shake with your right. Then you lean forward and tap noses twice. This signifies the sharing of the breath of life and shows trust. Tapping 3 times means you intend to wed that person I was warned. After that the maidens come to gather the Chiefs (there was 3 other buses there) and lead them into the village. It was all very savage and loud and pretty cool to see and participate in. Here’s a few videos shot by Steph Spielberg , haha.
Inside the village we were taught a few quick lessons on Maori history, life, and culture. I won’t spoil it for you, but it is interesting to hear about where they came from, the significance of the facial tattoos and the origin of the Haka. Speaking of fearsome war dances, here’s my first attempt.
Not bad huh? Just kidding. This is how it’s supposed to look.
We were brought into a small auditorium for a few fantastic performances.
A love song was the highlight of the night. Aside from me becoming Chief, obviously.
We were then escorted to the dining hall to feed my tribes ravenous appetite. The food was cooked in traditional Maori style under the ground with volcanic rocks from the nearby volcano to cook the meat and veggies. It was phenomenal. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, radishes, lamb, roast beef, and few things I couldn’t pronounce. We were treated to dinner and a show.
All in all it was an amazing experience. Definitely worth the time. The culture was fascinating, the songs were quite moving and the food was delicious. Here’s my final Haka with my most fearsome warriors.
Steph and I trying to sneak a shot of the Tamaki Chief. His cousin caught us.
And as we are leaving Stephanie tries her best to make sure any bad luck that’s laying around will find us.
So that wraps up this chapter. Thanks for checking us out. Can’t wait to share the next adventure! TTFN