Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Culture Mixed with Sulphur; ANN RICKARD Takes in the Colourful Maori Culture in New Zealand

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Culture Mixed with Sulphur; ANN RICKARD Takes in the Colourful Maori Culture in New Zealand

Article excerpt

IT'S ENOUGH to send you running in terror. But despite the bulging eyes, the shouting and the fierce tongue wagging, we know they love us.

We're receiving the traditional reception at Te Puia, the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute in Rotorua and, although it includes all the chest-thumping and thigh-slapping, all the shouting and eye rolling we expect from a haka performance, we know it's actually a welcome.

After the sound of a war trumpet to alert the home folks of our arrival at the imposing gates of Te Puia, a warrior has been sent out to dance and thump and slap before us. This is his challenge to us, his way of finding out if we've come in peace or not.

Once he's satisfied we're a friendly bunch, he places a token, a fern, before our own elected warrior (a rather nervous male member of our small party we've pushed to the front) who accepts it with due respect.

Our peaceful intent is noted by the warrior, he accepts us, and with a glare and a final poking of his tongue, he invites a spot of nose rubbing and finally - we're in.

It's a colourful bit of theatre and, along with the distinctive whiff of sulphur in the air, a most suitable welcome to Rotorua.

Rotorua is the top tourist attraction in a country bursting with attractions. It's the mud pools, the geysers, the Maori culture, the famous hangi, the glorious lakes, and the many thrills. When Rotorua welcomes you, it turns on the party and you can't help but love it.

At the multi-million-dollar Te Puia institute you experience the real Maori culture. This is a living, working village where the people, art and experiences bring to life the history and the sense of Maori customs and traditions.

You can try your hand at weaving from a flax plant (you probably won't be any good at it but it's fun trying), watch the apprentices at work in the carving school, and get a feel for the past life in the reconstructed Pikirangi Village. …

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