Joe and I have repeatedly noted during this trip that the Kiwis know tourism. This evening was one example of that.
We were picked up at the hotel after having enough time to warm up after Hobbiton. The bus was driven by one of the Maori men, who we would later find out was running the evening. After being taken to the in-town ticketing center, we drove to the outskirts of town. The drive was only about 20 minutes but the driver was entertaining. He told us about Kia Ora. As a matter of fact he told us what it it means in 48 languages. It was a fairly amazing feat. We also had to elect a leader to greet and be greeted at the gates of the Maori village. Since he lead the election and picked the criteria according to him no one except him was qualified since he was the only Kiwi on the bus. So he decided to go with lessor criteria but since no one on the bus played Rugby Union or rugby at all or even dreamed of playing rugby, we had to go with the guy who thought he might have played rugby in a past life. The tour driver thought it was a very sad day that no one on the bus cared about Rugby Union or the “best team in the world” the All Blacks.
When we arrived at the village we were greeted and challenged by the Maori warriors. This included the huka and the presentation of a gift to the leaders. After this we were welcomed by the chief into the village. My only complaint about the whole evening was that we didn’t have enough time to visit each of the areas and hear everything. However, Beth Anne was very brave and in front of maybe 30 people ran an obstacle course so that she and her people (family) could have their picture taken with a warrior. I was very proud of her.
Next we saw a show which included singing and dancing and poi. Poi is a dance form employing a ball or balls suspended from a length of flexible material held in the hand and swung in circular patterns. the slapping the poi on the various parts of the body were used to keep the beat of the song as well as being a performance in and of itself.
After all of that we were shown into the dining room. The food was OK but this was our first exposure to Pavlova. This is a meringue dessert. The Pav is cooked so that the is the outside is a crisp crunchy shell, while the interior remains soft and moist. Its internal consistency is thus completely different from that normally associated with meringue, having more of a soft marshmallow texture. It is traditionally decorated with a topping of whipped cream and fresh fruit of sweet/tart flavors, such as strawberries and kiwifruit. Yummy. It is also one of many bones of contention between Australia and New Zealand with both of them claiming to be the originators of the Pavlova. But according to everyone I have talked to here the Aussies are lying.
Finally we were back to the buses for our drive home, after all the men on our bus push started it. We sang songs from different countries including the waltzing Matilda, the star spangled banner and the traditional Maori song “The Wheel on the Bus.” The verses are a bit different here. I had never heard the verse
“The Driver of the bus doesn’t have a license, have a license, have a license.
The Driver of the bus doesn’t have a license. Just thought you should know.”
The girls could not stop giggling. Brigit still is singing this verse.
An amazingly great day in Rotorua.