Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pohara Marae

Day two ended at Pohara Marae, a Maori settlement nearby
Maungatautari, with a series of fascinating cultural experiences,
including a traditional Maori welcome ceremony. Wiki, our guide from
the ecological reserve and a resident of the Marae, led us through the
ceremony. It began with us entering through their gate, as greatings
and thanks were sung, and we were lead to a special seating area. The
marae hosts and our group sat opposite one another and exchanged group
introductions and songs. It began with the host leader welcoming us
to the marae (in Maori), followed by our leader (Chris Hendi taking
the role) introducing our group and thanking the hosts. Next the Maori
group sang us their welcoming song, and we returned by sharing a song
from our culture, a rendetion of "Hail to the Victors". (Note for next
field trip: remind students to bring rock hammers, hand lenses, AND
learn the words to their own school's fight song!) The ceremony ended
with the traditional shaking of hands and rubbing of noses (hongi)
among everyone, followed by a short tea.

Individual introductions followed later on in the communal sleeping
hall, where our group was bedded down for the night. After that, some
handy lanuage lessons and Maori history were shared, and then we all
got together for dinner.

The night also provided a chance for many folks to get their first
view of the Southern skies. (It was too cloudy and rainy the first
night.) The marae is in a rural area so the Milky Way in it's southern
exposure, with the Magellantic Clouds, was easily viewable. As was the
Southern Cross, and many constellations we associate with Northern
Hemisphere winter.


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