Saturday, November 21, 2009

Te puia

Whilst in Rotorua I took the opportunity to go to Te Puia, a Maori cultural centre based around geothermal geysers. I arranged a private tour and we got a delightful guide who showed us the area and then spent an hour teaching me how to do the traditional poi dancing while Dennis sat there refusing to join in. The dance involved intricate swinging and flicking of poi which are actually sponge balls off thick cord. I can report that I had a great fun time and that with about a thousand hours more practice I could be quite good at it!

We ate food cooked in a hangi in the thermal springs and also went to the cultural tour. Our private guide had had a word with the people running the show and so Dennis got to be the chief of the tourists and had a major role to play in the welcome ceremony - picking up the welcome token and rubbing noses with the home chiefs. It was interesting - all the time we have been here he has told people we are from England. As soon as he was appointed chief his tribal instincts bubbled to the surface and he declared his allegiance to Northern Ireland. In true N. Ireland stubbornness he wanted to know what would happen if he refused the welcome token. Our Maori host fixed him with a steely eye and declared that there would be symbolic war and no show would take place. He picked up the token.

I also got to spent time with some women weavers. Normally you just get to see some displays in the weaving school but I got to learn how to roll flax on my bare knee to make cords for weaving, to have a good old natter with the Maori women about their lives and to see some of their work. At one point Teresa casually brought out a package that she said had not been unwrapped 'since Miss New Zealand wore it'. It turned out that the bubble wrap contained the first prize winning outfit from the 2005 Wearable Arts award and this is me wearing the skirt from it it. Well, this is me holding it up against me as Miss New Zealand is a lot skinner than me!


Laura said...

Hi Helen, I've just browsed around your blog and you just know how to make a girl jealous! I can see that you are having a wonderful time. Enjoy, enjoy and thanks for sharing!

Kristin L said...

That is a fantastic skirt!
My kids have poi, but pretty much stopped playing with them after the millionth bonk to the head. Luckily, ours are just crumpled paper in plastic bags on a rope.