15 February 2012

Mitai Cultural Show

After the Te Puia Thermal Reserve, the Agrodome and Rainbow Springs, visiting the Mitai Cultural Centre was a perfect end to one of my favorite days of our Australian/New Zealand (Koala/Kiwi) adventure. Christy and I had to opportunity to meet people from all over the world, learn about Maori/Mitai traditions and see some of the dances and songs that were used centuries ago. As I've mentioned before, I found the Mitai people so friendly and welcoming, it really felt like we were a part of the fun and celebration. We met a lot of Maori's who were Christians, but who still held on to their culture and the beautiful aspects of where they've come from. I found this touching, and I just wish we could have spent longer here, learning more about them.

Uncovering our feast before heading to the Mitai show

"Maori chief" and our chosen "chief"

One of the more intimidating dances, whose purpose was to warn strangers, pretty much, not to mess with them:

One of the more fascinating things we learned about was the purpose and meaning behind the Maori tattoos. Obviously, the ones the men wore in the show were fake, but they were examples of tattoos that were actually worn by Maoris in the past. The men wear 4 designs that represent birds on their face: a bat on the forehead representing wisdom, parrot beak on the nose representing skill and speech making, owl on the chin representing protection and the kiwi on the sides of the face representing protection of mother earth. Other tattoos on the body include ocean waves on the legs for power and speed, and spiral on the backside for energy patterns in wind and water.

Maori "chief"'s tattoo, or moko

One of the prettier, less intimidating, Maori songs:

After the Mitai performance, all of the visitors had the chance to take part in the traditional Maori feast. We had all kinds of delicious food including lamb, chicken, potatoes, etc - all cooked underground as it was traditionally. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to take a little trek into the "woods" surrounding the cultural centre (nothing more fun than venturing into nature with about a hundred other tourists - in the dark, armed with flashlights that we could use sparingly!). The purpose of our little walk? Seeing an awesome display of glow worms (the only ones in Rotorua) in their natural setting. With our flashlights off, they lit up gloriously, like a bunch of crystals glittering in the sun!

Waiting for the lights to go out, to see Rotorua's glow worms

Christy and I practicing our Maori war face in the hotel.....

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