Saturday, 30 January 2016

Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival

Today we went to the opening day of the Tamaki Herenga Waka festival on Auckland's Queen Wharf.  This weekend is a 3 day one for us, as Monday is the bank holiday of Auckland Day and this festival is a celebration of Maori culture. We witnessed some whakairo (carving) and spoke to a guy who told us that he has made pieces for Auckland council and Devonport library. He showed us a head piece which would be situated at the top of a marae (sacred meeting place, kind of triangular in shape) with the two slopes coming down acting as the arms, the line at the top the spine and the legs at the back. The eyes of the head can be big and round like an owl or smaller and more narrow like a hawk. The carver said that traditionally this was a way to preserve Maori stories and legends. 

We had a quick look round the stalls, no purchasing unfortunately as we are saving for a little trip coming up - but more on that soon! There were tempting looking food vans displaying wares of sea food fritters and hangi platters, tables of greenstone jewellery and Maori patterned wall hangings. We saw small children and adults alike walking around with temporary moko (tattoos) on both sides of their faces (men) and their chin (women). Inside was a stall selling Maori medicine and natural remedies and a few beds where tired visitors were indulging in a relaxing massage. 

Outside of 'The Cloud' building we were welcomed by the display of a large waka (canoe) at the entrance. Both Will and I remembered our visit to Mitai Maori village and cultural show and the facts told to us about the boats; how they were made, how many men could fit inside etc - look back to the Campervan Adventures post! We noticed the large male genitalia(!) displayed on the wooden figures at the front and back of the waka to signify male strength.

There was a stage and band and we caught a couple of songs by Bob Marley that they had re-imagined, slightly changing the words to fit the Maori's particular struggle with colonisation and how they are overcoming it. Everyone was sitting on beanbags and the atmosphere was so laid back.

Outside there were buskers' 'stations' with a few crazy acts like Celtic Colin who dressed in a kilt, played the bagpipes then got on a 3m high unicycle and juggled knives. And we watched whilst some spray painting artists created some great patterned images.

Venturing over to The Maritime museum we caught the semi final of the waka race. I took some photos...

But the only way to show you what it was really like was to film a little video! My first on this blog which I've uploaded on to my very own YouTube channel -

We were about to leave when we heard an announcement for a free ferry ride around the port so tagged along - can't turn down something for nothing! It was lovely to float about in the turquoise waters, sea spray in our faces and thinking of our friends back in the UK braving the freezing wind and rain, sorry!

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