Mar 15 2014

Te Puia, in Rotorua, New Zealand

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An hour and a half bus ride from Hamilton lies Rotorua, a geothermal city.  Throughout the town, small geothermal vents shoot sulfur steam into the air.  Most are relatively small, and are surrounded by fences to keep the curious from getting too close (they may be small, but they are scorchingly hot).  An exception is the geyser Pohutu, located in Te Puia, and Te Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao (The gathering place for the war parties of Wahiao).  Wahiao was a great ancestor to the people of the valley, and the chief of Ngati Wahiao, a subtribe of Te Arawa.  The Te Arawa Waka was one of the eight original canoe that brought Maori from Hawaiiki to New Zealand.  Te Puia Pa (fortified village) was one of the last strongholds of Wahiao. It is now the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institiute, a prestigious school dedicated to continuing the traditional arts of carving and weaving of the Maori people.

 

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The fist thing you see upon entering Te Puia is a circle of totem, each intricately carved and reaching towards the sky.  The art feels both familiar and timeless, as though you are both of this time and the past.  There is a reverence, stillness, and yet strength that overtakes you, and stayed with me the entire time I was within.

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Unlike in the traditional marae, the buildings at Te Puia allow photos, allowing me to share them with you.  All of the carvings on the buildings are done by hand, taking countless hours and knowledge of the different forms.  Designs are done within a set framework of symbols and meaning, telling a unique story.

Within the main building, a performance of traditional songs and dance, many joyful, as well as the well known haka performed to intimidate enemies before battle, was an experience that left my spirit lighter, and wishing it did not have to end.

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After the performance I joined a small group touring the carving and weaving schools, and then wandered towards the geyser, waiting for it to erupt.  It usually does so twice or three times an hour.

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It was difficult to leave Te Puia.  Walking back out to the street and waiting for the bus felt surreal.  Or maybe Te Puia was surreal, and the bus was merely a return to normalcy.  With only a little over an hour left before I needed to be on the return bus to Hamilton, I walked over to the Rotorua Museum of Art and History.  In the late 1800s Rotorua hoped to become a spa destination, and connections to Auckland were created for this purpose.  The museum was its main attraction, at that point a spa offering mud bath and other treatments for numerous ailments.  While the dream of a thriving spa tourist town never reached the heights they had wished, the attempt assured Rotorua’s continued modern development.

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Mar 6 2014

Auckland and Hamilton, New Zealand

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Our first day in New Zealand could not have been any more gorgeous.   We flew from Brisbane to Auckland, and took the bus from the airport to downtown Auckland in time for a late lunch.  Just a short ferry ride, and then a short, yet quite steep, walk up to the top of Mt. Victoria gave us some of the most amazing views imaginable, the photo above for one.  Below is a view of the city of Auckland on our return ferry trip.

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After a half day in Auckland, a driver came to pick us up and take us to Hamilton, location of LIANZA 2013, located along the amazing Waikato River.  Our second day in New Zealand was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  The conference goers were welcomed with a pōwhiri by mana whenua at Tūrangawaewae Marae.  The hospitality and beauty of the ceremony is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.  According to custom, we are now members of the tribe, welcome with open arms and hearts.  Photos are not allowed within the marae, but I do not think they would do it justice anyhow.  The feeling at the marae, at times almost overwhelming me with wonder and joy, transcends any mere picture.

The conference began the next day, and while ulotrichous was busy attending and speaking, I spent the days wandering Hamilton.  The first day was spent walking from our hotel down the Waikato River to the Hamilton Gardens.  I wandered the gardens, enjoying the glorious spring weather, returning in time to have a late dinner with ulotrichous.

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Nov 8 2013

Beautiful Australia and New Zealand

I still pinch myself now and again, realizing how amazingly fortunate I’ve been in my world travels.  The love of my life, ulotrichous, keeps getting truly amazing speaking invitations, and while early on I joked that any international travel had to include a spousal ticket, I didn’t at the time realize just how often I would be able to claim the rewards of that “rule”.

Lianza 2013 was held in Hamilton, New Zealand, and in addition to their invitation, it was sandwiched with speaking invites from the State Library in Brisbane, Australia beforehand, and a gig to finish at the State Library in Sydney.  All told, we spent 16 days in warm, sunny spring weather, gawking at sheep and postcard views, exploring awesome cities, and pushing our comfort zone with an amazing tubing trip through the famous Waitomo caves.

Without further ado, photos!  First up, three days in Brisbane, Australia

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brisbane botanical garden

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Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

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Downtown Brisbane

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Queensland Art Gallery

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