Monday, March 05, 2007

Kia Ora

Yesterday we had our first foray into Auckland, the City of Sails. It was Sunday and busy - there was Jazz in the Park, Kite Flying for Big Kids, a Children's Festival, and a gleaming Vintage Car Collection being proudly shown on the road into the Domain, the large open space in the centre of Auckland that houses our target for the day; The Auckland War Memorial Museum.

It was impressive, we didn't manage to get any further than the ground floor that covers the various people of the Pacific and is where the Maori Treasurers were displayed. We were made welcome - Kia Ora, rather than a Hongi nose rub thank goodness - with a Maori performance of songs, stick games, pois twirling and a fierce Haka all of which gave the museum an extra cultural dimension that enhanced the displayed artifacts and rounded out our Maori experience. It is also perhaps indicative of a different approach by New Zealanders to the conquering war torn past. Here it is easier to acknowledge that everyone is an immigrant of some sort, at some time. We were relieved to find the very earliest settlers, the indigenous Maori given such a central prominence unlike the Aborigines who we felt were being very much sidelined in Australia.

We then went on to a special exhibition, Vaka Moana, that went into detail of how the Maoris arrived in New Zealand. It is a particular view that incorporates world settlement patterns and it sees the migration to the Pacific Islands as the final and greatest as it required finding land in an ocean, the Pacific, that covers a third of the world. The exhibition details the world's first ocean-going technology that helped to achieve this and which was developed by the Micronesians and Melanesians long before anyone else. We are whisked into the world of astronomy and boat building, traditional arts rescued from extinction by New Zealander David Lewis. I think Mr Lewis has taken up the Thor Heyerdahl mantle although we saw no reference to the Kon Tiki. It was a fascinating exhibition and goes on a world wide tour after Auckland,in Europe you can see it in Paris and Berlin but not as far as I know in London. I wonder why - but that is a whole different world - the politics of Museum Exhibitions.

Being a bit brain dead by then, and in need of chilling out we hopped on a tour bus and went round the city past quaysides, beaches, prosperous pretty areas of a town bathed in sunshine.

On our way home, perhaps as it was a Sunday, we nipped into Auckland Cathedral - in between services - to gaze at the magnificent stained glass windows, designed to display symbolism of various New Zealand cultures. My favourite was the feeding of the five thousand which looks as though it incorporates a variety of shopping bags but which are in fact woven mats and kits (kete) with New Zealand flora, birds and fish.

Today we are off to the Coromandel Peninsular followed by the bubbling mud and gushing geysers at Rotorua. Toodle Pip!


PMM&L said...

Sounds great. Could you phone us please - nothing to worry about.

axx said...

think I've caught up with this one now. Thanks. xx