By Jamie Vischer
We have had an unbelievable week exploring the coast of the North Island. We started in Raglan, a cool surfing town on the West Coast. Our time was mainly spent at the Marae, a Maori community gathering space. We learned tons of stuff about Maori history, ceremonies, and language. We had the pleasure of experiencing a pōwhiri, a traditional welcoming ceremony in the Maori culture. We were taught traditional Maori introductions and songs to present during the ceremony. In addition, we were taught a haka (war dance) by Kimo and his siblings and played some fun traditional games. Lastly, we got to finish the week off with an unbelievably transformative sweat lodge ceremony in the hills of Raglan. The sweat lodge may have been the coolest thing I have ever done in my life, besides the fact that I had my mouth covered in dirt, breathing through the ground to resist the heat. Overall a pretty unbelievable week packed with amazing Maori stories and a broader understanding of indigenous people. Shoutout to Tiaki for sharing his passion and community with us.