When in Aotearoa (New Zealand) you must try to attend a hangi. It is based around food, ceremony and the traditional cooking in a pit with hot stones.It can feel a bit touristy but get over that and enjoy it.
We went to our hangi (pronounced hungi) in Rotorua with an independent maori managed company, who had gone into the industry to take ownership of their history back from the big hotel chains, Tamaki Maori Village. You can stay overnight however we only had time for the evening event. Transport etc all included.
It’s worth looking for one similar rather than pay to go on a really falsely profiting and manufactured one. We had a full evening, including demonstrations of a village with maori arts, history etc. A show with haka and women doing the poi, if you think it looks easy have a go. I have my own poi and can even whack myself on the back of my head if I lose concentration! Not for me the flaming poi of hippies at Glastonbury then.
We learnt about how the facial tattoos are designed, symbolism and sadly ongoing prejudice. We spoke to a few maori who knew they couldn’t get their facial tattoos permanently etched until they retired as ‘society’ would not employ them. Oh don’t get me started, when will we learn to look to the inside of a person not the shell that holds them.
It was a great evening, the only slight criticism, which was acknowledged by the organisers before I mentioned it. I couldn’t see how chocolate cake, custard, meringue and peaches fit in to the culture, but I guess needs must and folk wanted a pudding so that’s what was easy to serve the masses. It was tasty at the end of a long day.
The haka (I can never get enough)
Encouragement to take photos to ‘spread the word about maori history’