We sailed into Tauranga this morning and took off on our first ship’s excursion of this trip, a few hours at Te Pa Tu near Rotorua. The drive took us past new suburbs, logging areas, and lots of kiwifruit fields – this one grows golden kiwifruit (you can tell by the way the plants are trained to grow in a triangular pattern).
Te Pa Tu is owned and operated by the Tauhara North No. 2 Trust, which is an extended Maōri family operation; they help preserve the Maōri culture and teach visitors about it.
Each bus had to elect a chief to exchange greetings with the chief of the family; one of the women of the tribe briefed our chief on the protocol to be followed.
The warriors came out and showed their weapons, and then the whole family shouted a challenge to our chiefs.
But peace held, and the chiefs exchanged gestures of mutual respect, including handshakes and the touching of noses.
We visited four houses of learning, where they taught us about the meaning and history of their body markings, some games, and even how to perform a haka.
The family performed some traditional songs (and even a little Elvis) and then we shared lunch.
It was interesting to see some of the traditional buildings fitted out with power, plumbing, and the like. I don’t know if the family actually lives at Te-Pa-Tu or if it’s strictly used for shows and education.
One of the hazards of living near Rotorua is the high sulfur content of the air and the occasional hot mud pond that appears out of nowhere.
Our ship was docked near Mount Maunganui; Diane and I took a walk along the beach and went up a short distance on one of the mountain tracks.
New Zealand takes tsunami preparation seriously.
We walked back to the ship along the main Maunganui beach before returning by way of the commercial district.
We sailed away from Tauranga a bit before 7pm; I’m glad we got a chance to see a few aspects of the area, but I know we missed a lot!