By Shai, Sophie, Nico, and Elliot

Hi Hongi fans!! Shai, Sophie, Nico and Elliot here giving you the deets of our latest adventures in New Zealand. Our week started off spending two nights at Manu-Wairua Retreat, a Marae in Raglan. Here we endured an intensive healing process that utilized a sweat lodge. A sweat lodge is a small enclosed dome used in many indigenous purification ceremonies. Inside, there is someone who chants, drums, and gives powerful speeches. For many students, this process revealed many vulnerabilities and was extremely therapeutic and enlightening.

Drums are revered in indigenous culture as grandfathers and grandmothers, and play a significant role in traditional ceremonies. We were fortunate enough to participate in a traditional drum circle with instruction from both of our hosts.

After our short retreat, we headed to another Marae outside of Ragland. We were greeted by our two wonderful hosts Tiaki and Matewai, who guided us through a journey of self-reflection and inquiry of Maori history and culture. Surfing, a practice originally established by the Maori, was a popular activity in Ragland. We were given an introduction to surfing by a local surfing pro, Reiki, and had a taste of what it was like to go up against the clear, cool waters of the New Zealand. After recovering, we traveled to a stunning waterfall that has been used for spiritual cleansing for a significant portion of Maori history. This gave the group an opportunity to reflect on the things we wished to leave behind and those things we wished to take in. We returned to the Marae refreshed and ready for our next activity.

On one of our last nights, a group of locals came to give us a demonstration of a Haka, singing and dancing, and various Taiaha forms. We also had a chance to learn the well-known Haka “Comate, Comate” as well as a song, and perform it with our new friends. On our final night, we learned a bit about Maori history in New Zealand post-1840 and the Treaty of Waitangi, and how legislation was continuously passed for more than 100 years in an attempt to strip the Maori of their land, language, and culture. We left the Marae with an understanding of historical trends in the treatment of indigenous peoples throughout the world, and a desire to return home with the passion to learn more about the indigenous people residing in our own country.

Over the past few days, we have been completing our student-directed travel. We spent two nights in Rotarua, and one night in Napier in anticipation of our upcoming week at a permaculture farm. The next time you hear from us, we will not only all be proficient in cow milking, but also ready to embark on to the next phase of our journey: Fiji.

As always, thanks for tuning in!