Kia ora and nau mai, my Men in Kilts (and Outlander) whānau! (Hello and welcome to my family, in Te Reo Maori!) As Sam and Graham continue their journey through Aotearoa )New Zealand), they meet the Maori, the country’s indigenous people, and learn about the culture, the language, and the customs!
— Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham (@MenInKiltsSTARZ) August 18, 2023
Te Reo Māori
This second episode, while not as funny as the first one, was much more of a dive into this country that not a lot of us will ever get to or learn about! When we were there a year ago, it felt very familiar to the US in many ways, and in others, VERY different. The Maori language is peppered throughout daily speech. My two small grandsons are learning bits of this language right alongside their English – ask them to point to their puku, and they’ll happily lift their shirts to show you their little tummies. Their daycare sends out updates that use many Maori words and phrases – tamariki (children), aroha nui (with deep affection, usually a sign-off to a letter), tuakana-teina (a teaching and learning approach often between older and younger children), and more. Te Reo is one of two official languages (sign language is the other – while the majority of the population speaks English, it is not an official language for the country).
Sam and Graham visited the Maori mitai (pronounced mireye) in Rotorua. Rotorua, in the northern center part of the north island, has an active Maori cultural center. (The town smells like sulfur, my son reports, due to the large number of natural hot springs.) If you visit New Zealand, there are tours and experiences available. From the Rotorua’s visitor website, “By entering the world of Mitai Māori Village you will embrace the history and culture of our people through the migration story of our ancestors, the Ngāti Ohomairangi people who voyaged across the Pacific Ocean more than 2,000 years ago and arrived in New Zealand. Watch the migration story unfold through the performing arts of the Pacific and te ao Māori. You will be captivated by the sound and drums of the islands, enchanted by the graceful movements of our performers, and charmed by the melodious voices of the Ngāti Ohomairangi descendants.”
Sam and Graham really seemed to enjoy learning some of the fighting moves, haka steps, and training that were shown to them! While the guys do play a lot, they’re both respectful and eager to learn. Next time you need to show your defiance, stick your tongue all the way out. One funny moment, though, was when Sam remarked that Graham had “really good hips when he’s dancing” – if you want to see for yourself, here’s video that our friend Sam Kraupner shot at an Outlander event in Rome several years ago!
While it is possible that you have seen videos of a haka being performed by the country’s celebrated rugby team, the All-Blacks, the traditional haka is slightly different. Here’s one:
Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve
Or your story on your arm, or your face…. The first time I saw a depiction of tā moko was in a science fiction film called Ender’s Game. A war hero, played by Sir Ben Kingsley, had a marked face. And when we went to New Zealand last year, waiting for a short plane trip from Auckland to Napier, we talked with two women who both had chin mokos. They were friendly and interesting, and invited us to contact them once we got settled – we didn’t have a chance, but we were impressed with the warmth of the people.
Sam and Graham’s personal stories, both involving their fathers not being present in their lives to some extent, were lovely to hear, and I appreciate them both being so open! The mokos that the artist drew on their arms were beautiful, and I appreciated the explanation of different symbolism. I hope they both got good pictures of them (since it’s unlikely that either will actually get them permanently tattooed). The art of tā moko is explained in more detail here!
The waka race brought back Sam’s competitiveness – it made me laugh to see Graham being “anti-competitive,” and chuckling at how over the top Sam was – for fun obviously. But when you live on an island, everything might involve the water – food, housing, war. I can’t imagine 100 men powering one boat! And we saw rainbows almost every day that we were in New Zealand – apparently the long white clouds the country is known for bring a lot of very bright rainbows!
Next week: Food and Wine! And I’ll be holding a contest!
Want to learn more about New Zealand? There’s an excellent documentary series called The New Zealanders – it is occasionally available on your local PBS station (in the Chicago area, it may be on Saturday nights), but it’s also available on Tubi TV, a free streaming service. IMDb says “The New Zealanders is a beautifully shot travelogue series introducing us to some of the quirkiest locations and heart-warming characters throughout New Zealand. “
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