Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Snapshot

West Metro Mommy Reads

Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy

We are back from our two months of travel in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. We picked up our car in LA this morning and am spending tonight in Las Vegas.

March 2015 - Rotorua New Zealand

Kia Ora or welcome!!!

I wrote about our amazing day in this town that culminated with this fabulous dinner. Click here to learn about the origins of this village.

We were intrigued by how much the Maori culture reminded us of our visits to Hawaii.

The North Island Māori experience in Rotorua, 'Journey of Ages', has been such a success that a South Island Māori experience has been created in Christchurch. The Christchurch experience is called 'Lost in Our Own Land', and is a standalone experience that captures a southern Māori experience.

The Tamaki brothers are in the process of creating a third Māori village in Auckland that will tell the story of 'The Arrival'.

Tamaki Heritage Group now has over 120 employees and an annual turnover of $12m. Bill, our driver, said everyone is related to everyone else.

Enroute to Tamaki Maori Village, nestled in the thick of an ancient Tawa forest, your guide will instruct you on the rules of entering a Marae and the protocol you must observe. The visiting tribe must appoint a Chief to accept the peace offering and to represent those on your coach. Representation of your group is considered an honourable task in Maoridom. As you make your way to the village, you’ll learn about the great Maori migration - when Maori journeyed across the vast ocean in massive Waka (canoes) to New Zealand. You’ll also enjoy some fascinating Maori legends and stories from our history.

Māori are the tangata whenua – the people of the land. In over 700 years of settlement, they have shown an extraordinary ability to adapt first to a new environment and then to the arrival of European immigrants and culture.

The Māori language is an official language of New Zealand, and in recent years has undergone a revival.

The women also greeted us.

We move on to the interactive displays. Here we are taught about their body designs.

Tā moko is the permanent body and face marking by Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Traditionally it is distinct from tattoo and tatau in that the skin was carved by uhi (chisels) rather than punctured. This left the skin with grooves, rather than a smooth surface.

Each moko contains ancestral tribal messages specific to the wearer. These messages tell the story of the wearer's family and tribal affiliations, and their place in these social structures.

A moko’s message also portrays the wearer’s genealogy, knowledge and social standing.

John, practicing his most menacing face for the male tribal dance.

Kapa haka is the term for Māori performing arts and literally means to form a line (kapa) and dance (haka). Kapa haka is an avenue for Maori people to express and showcase their heritage and cultural Polynesian identity through song and dance.

Kapa haka dates back to pre-European times where it developed from all traditional forms of Maori pastimes; haka, mau rakau (Maori weaponry), poi (ball attached to rope or string) and moteatea (traditional Maori songs). These everyday activities were influential to the development of kapa haka.

A kapa haka performance involves choral singing, dance and movements associated in the hand-to-hand combat practiced by Māori in mainly precolonial times, presented in a synchronisation of action, timing, posture, footwork and sound. The genre evolved out of a combination of European and Māori musical principles.

POI" is the Maori word for "ball" on a cord.
Wahine (female) dancers perform the Maori POI, a dance performed with balls attached to flax strings, swung rhythmically. Those pictured to the right are using short POI.
The POI dance was originally used by the Maori women for keeping their hands flexible for weaving and by the men for strength and coordination required during battle. POI are also used as a training aid for other ancient weapons like the Mere or Patu (Short club).

When Māori first arrived in Aotearoa, they encountered a climate that was extreme compared to their homelands in Polynesia. They adapted quickly by utilising their existing twining and weaving skills to produce korowai (cloaks) and other practical objects such as kete (baskets) and whāriki (mats). The most widely used weaving material was (and still is) harakeke - otherwise known as New Zealand flax.

Weaving is traditionally done by women and skilled weavers are prized within their tribes. 'Aitia te wahine o te pā harakeke' is a Māori proverb that translates to mean 'Marry the woman who is always at the flax bush, for she is an expert flax worker and an industrious person'.

Hāngi (Māori pronunciation: [ˈhaːŋi]) is a traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven still used for special occasions.

To "lay a hāngi" or "put down a hāngi" involves digging a pit in the ground, heating stones in the pit with a large fire, placing baskets of food on top of the stones, and covering everything with earth for several hours before uncovering (or lifting) the hāngi.

Our dinner , lamb, potatoes and vegetables and chicken, absolutely delicious. Served with salads, fish, mussels and dessert.

We then proceed inside to a show while dinner was being prepared for serving.

All in all an amazing event to attend. We must say it was probably the best 

inSPIREd Sunday

Sally and Beth hosts inSPIREd Sunday!

March 2015 - Penola Australia

On Day 18 in Australia we visited St.Joseph's Church in Penola.
Click on the link to see some more about Mary MacKillop.

Mary Helen MacKillop was born on 15 January 1842 in what is now the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Victoria (at the time part of an area called Newtown in the then British colony of New South Wales) to Alexander MacKillop and Flora MacDonald. Although she continued to be known as "Mary", when she was baptised six weeks later she received the names Maria Ellen.

MacKillop's parents lived in Roybridge, Inverness-shire, Scotland, prior to emigrating to Australia.MacKillop visited the village in the 1870s where the local Catholic church, St Margaret's, now has a shrine to her.

Mary Helen MacKillop RSJ (15 January 1842 – 8 August 1909), now formally known as St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, was an Australian nun who has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church. Of Scottish descent, she was born in Melbourne, but was best known for her activities in South Australia. Together with the Reverend Julian Tenison Woods, she founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), a congregation of religious sisters that established a number of schools and welfare institutions throughout Australasia, with an emphasis on education for the rural poor.

With the process to have MacKillop declared a saint having begun in the 1920s, she was beatified in January 1995 by Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI prayed at her tomb during his visit to Sydney for World Youth Day 2008 and, in December 2009, approved the Catholic Church's recognition of a second miracle attributed to her intercession. She was canonised on 17 October 2010, during a public ceremony in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. She is the first and only Australian to be recognised by the Catholic Church as a saint.

Fr Woods had been very concerned about the lack of education and particularly Catholic education in South Australia. In 1866, he invited MacKillop and her sisters Annie and Lexie to come to Penola and to open a Catholic school. Woods was appointed director of education and became the founder, along with MacKillop, of a school they opened in a stable there. After renovations by their brother, the MacKillops started teaching more than 50 children. At this time MacKillop made a declaration of her dedication to God and began wearing black.

On 21 November 1866, the feast day of the Presentation of Mary, several other women joined MacKillop and her sisters. MacKillop adopted thereligious name of Sister Mary of the Cross and she and Lexie began wearing simple religious habits. The small group began to call themselves the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and moved to a new house in Grote Street, Adelaide. There they founded a new school at the request of the bishop, Laurence Bonaventure Sheil OFM. Dedicated to the education of the children of the poor, it was the first religious institute to be founded by an Australian.

The "Rule of Life" developed by Woods and MacKillop for the community emphasised poverty, a dependence on divine providence, no ownership of personal belongings, faith that God would provide and willingness to go where needed. The "Rule of Life" was approved by Bishop Sheil. By the end of 1867, ten other women had joined the Josephites, who adopted a plain brown religious habit. Due to the colour of their attire and their name, the Josephite sisters became colloquially known as the "Brown Joeys".

Friday, March 27, 2015

Day 31 New Zealand - Rotorua

Tuesday 24th March, 2015 - (GS39) Discover Rotorua Morning Tour

Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Duration: 4.67 hour(s)
Pick up: 7:35am Millennium Hotel Rotorua , Rotorua , New Zealand
Drop off: 12:15pm Millennium Hotel Rotorua , Rotorua , New Zealand

Yet another very early start. We are on a small bus this time. It is pouring rain and our first stop is outside.

Today on your morning tour you will visit Te Puia and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where
you can view mighty geysers, boiling mud pools, and the traditional arts and culture of the Maori

We are quickly learning that this is the worst bunch of tourists so far, and there are only seventeen.
Everyone is late,don't listen.

We are met by Shane, who is our Maori guide.

Even though it is raining the geyser cooperates and it is a site to behold.

Sitting atop the sinter terraces known as Geyser Flat is the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere – or as we call it, Pohutu. This world-famous celebrity with an explosive personality is one of the most photographed attractions in all of Rotorua.

We then walk over to see the mud pools known as Nga Mokai a Koko – ‘The playthings of Koko’.

This mud pool is the largest and most impressive at Te Puia, with a depth of between 6-10 metres. Although activity is dependent on rainfall, the steaming bursts of mud reach temperatures of approximately 90- 95°C.

Shane then sat us down and gave us some background into the Maori way of life.
I will write more on the Maori later.

Ancestors of Māori arrived on canoes from Pacific islands before 1300 AD. Settling first on the coast, they hunted seals and moas. Then they also began to grow food, and some moved to the forests. They lived in small tribal groups, with a rich culture of spoken stories, and strong traditions of warfare. Their ancestors, and the gods of the natural world, were very important.

Europeans arrive

The arrival of Europeans from the early 1800s had a major effect on these early communities. Among the newcomers were missionaries, and many Māori became Christians. They learnt to read and began trading, especially in pigs and potatoes.
In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi established British law and government, but it could not prevent warfare in the 1840s and 1860s as Māori sought to defend their lands and local authority. After the wars Māori lost land through confiscation and sale, mostly to British settlers.

You will have a hands on experience at the Agrodome Sheep Show, giving you an animated insight into New Zealand's farming history.

As we are driving we can see blues skies forming a circle around us. The guide explains it is because Rototua is a caldera.
Caldera eruptions leave behind large craters in the Earth – not what we think of when someone says volcano

The Rotorua Caldera is one of several large volcanoes located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone on the North Island of New Zealand. Its last major eruption was about 240,000 years ago. At this time, the Mamaku ignimbrite, covering about 4000 square km, was deposited. After the eruption, the magma chamber underneath the volcano collapsed. The circular depression left behind is the current caldera, about 22 km (14 mi) in diameter and now occupied by Lake Rotorua. Mokoia Island, close to the centre of the lake, is a rhyolite dome. There are other domes like Hinemoa Point, Ngongotaha, Pohaturoa and Pukeroa.

 The most recent magmatic eruption occurred less than 25,000 years ago, creating some of the smaller lava domes.There is also much geothermal activity as we have seen at the geysers.

This was not what I expected, a full blown show dedicated to sheep with a lot of Kiwi humour thrown in.

In the heart of 350 acres of lush farmland, yet only 10 minutes from Rotorua city centre, you’ll find New Zealand’s Agrodome.

For over 40 years, visitors from all over the globe have come to the Agrodome to see our world-famous Farm Show – starring a cast of talented animals.

The auditorium is quite full, mostly Asians from Korea and Taiwan.

Peeking around the corner! Waitinf for his turn on stage.

Wn knew there were so many types of sheep??

From 1982 to 2011, New Zealand’s sheep population declined to 31.1 million from 70.2 million, according to government data, as many sheep pastures were converted to dairy farms or other uses. The roughly 17,000 sheep farmers who remain still earn money from selling the fleece of their animals. But on many sheep farms, meat has replaced wool as the primary profit maker.

Seems a sheep grows back his wool within six months. the market for wool has declined rapidly as more and more synthetic fabrics are produced. Merino wool is lovely but it is very expensive.

 We leave the show and wander outside.

We later watched the demonstration.

We hadn't had breakfast so John was dying for a coffee.

Into the wool shop, very tempted but very expensive.

Mean looking buggers!!!

You will also experience Rainbow Springs which is a unique showcase of New Zealand's flora and fauna including New Zealand's national icon, a kiwi bird.
Rainbow Springs is truly an attraction like no other in the world. Set in 22 acres of beautiful native trees and streams we are home to a huge variety of New Zealand’s most precious inhabitants.

We now have blue skies for this tour.

As we enter we are posed for photos that will be photoshopped to show us holding a kiwi in our hands and another with a tuatara on our arms.

It is  thought that allowing the farming of trout would disadvantage Kiwi and overseas recreational fishers. Although you can’t buy and sell trout here, you can sell the experience of catching one, and this brings many millions of tourist dollars into the country. Certain diseases can occur in trout farms and be spread into the wild stock, and there’s also the danger of poaching.

This is Jenny the kea. hand reared. 24 years old, she has killed both her partners. She lays an unfertilized egg but will sit on it for several months, waiting for it to hatch. So she would be a good mother but not a very good wife!!

 Male kea.

The moa were nine species (in six genera) of flightless birds endemic to New Zealand. The two largest species, Dinornis robustus and Dinornis novaezelandiae, reached about 3.6 m (12 ft) in height with neck outstretched, and weighed about 230 kg (510 lb) When Polynesians settled New Zealand in 1280, the moa population was about 58,000.

Moa extinction occurred in 1440 ± 20 years, primarily due to overhunting by Māori.

You can get Moa "juice" nowadays.

A stuffed kiwi as you are not allowed to take pictures of the real ones.

We finally got to see one running around in the dark. Kiwis are flightless birds native to New Zealand, in the genus Apteryx and family Apterygidae. At around the size of a domestic chicken, kiwi are by far the smallest living ratites (which also consist of ostriches, emus, rheas, and cassowaries), and lay the largest egg in relation to their body size of any species of bird in the world.

All species have been negatively affected by historic deforestation but currently the remaining large areas of their forest habitat are well protected in reserves and national parks. At present, the greatest threat to their survival is predation by invasive mammalian predators. Namely the possum and stoats.

We have been lucky on this trip to see kiwis, emus and cassowaries!

As always we exit through the gift shop where we stop to see our photoshopped photos. There are ok but they seem silly knowing they were "fixed".

 Back on the bus, the driver stops for some passengers to change buses at the terminal, and we get off, adios to a bunch of idiot tourists! We know our way around and it would have taken an hour for the bus to drop us off while the driver explained, once again, where they would be boarding their next bus.

We decide to have an Ulster fry at the Irish pub. That is a big fry up with eggs, ham, sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes with toast. Huge.

We stroll back to the hotel for the afternoon, stopping on the way. We have to get packed up for another early pick up in the morning as we are out for the evening.

Rotorua Journey of Ages

Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Duration: 3.17 hour(s)
Pick up: 5:20pm Millennium Hotel Rotorua , Rotorua , New Zealand
Drop off: 8:30pm Millennium Hotel Rotorua , Rotorua , New Zealand

We get all gussied up for the evening out. On our balcony, across from the sulphur springs.

This evening you will engage in a wonderful experience at the Tamaki Maori Village. Enroute
your guide will instruct you on the rules and protocol for visiting Marae (meeting grounds).

Our guide is Bill, and he is charming and a very proud Maori.

I am only going to showt a few photos here as I will go into detail in another post.

Mike Tamaki had the business dream of setting up a pre-European Māori village. He was already working in the tourism industry as a tour guide and driver for Intercity Travel, but this new venture was very different.

Mike’s vision was for visitors to the Māori village to experience first-hand a cultural experience like no other. However, his dream was at a standstill until he could raise the capital to fund his idea.

Mike got rejected by all the banks before he managed to convince his younger brother Doug to lend him the money. So in 1989, after selling Doug’s beloved Harley Davidson motorcycle, the two brothers used the money to buy a 16-seater minibus. This was the start of their business, Tamaki Tours, a Māori Village based 15 minutes south of Rotorua.

The brothers worked very hard to create an experience that portrays the history and spirit of their Māori ancestors as realistically as possible.

On arrival at the venue, nobody must enter the fortified village until the Powhiri (formal welcome)
has been performed.

The host tribe will send out a toa (warrior) who will challenge the guests, via their elected chief to ascertain if they come in peace.

A Teka (peace offering) is placed and received by one of the visiting chiefs. At the Village, the Karanga, or "welcome call", will echo across the courtyard, followed by the Powhiri (welcome dance).

You will then be able to enter onto the village grounds where the Tangata Whenua (people of the land) will demonstrate different activities such as poi twirling, hand games, weaponry displays, reciting chants and displaying activities of an era gone by.

All  the men learning the dance.

The buffet style dinner will be held in the meetinghouse dining hall and will have everyone
enjoying a succulent Hangi feast.

Our dinner being taken from the oven.

Everything was cooked in the ground and was absolutely delicious, lamb, vegetables, potatoes and chicken accompanied by salads, fish and mussels.
We met a delightful couple, Cheryl and Greg, from Springfield MO and promised to keep in touch.

The evening ends with the Poroporoaki, the official closing ceremony and you will be safely transferred back to your accommodation.

Bill, our driver was great fun. He asked our "chief" who was from England, to start a singalong.
Bill then did You Are My Sunshine. We came to a roundabout and Bill asked if we knew She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain and we proceeded to sing this as Bill went around and around the roundabout.

Bill, going around and around.