Tuesday, 31 January 2012

New Zealand Day Five - Waitangi and Kerikeri

This morning we travelled East to the Bay of Islands, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840.  The treaty was an agreement between the Maori tribes and the British government.
Among the terms of the treaty, it was stated that :
  • Māori would retain possession of their lands and fishing areas.
  • At the same time, Māori would accept the new Colonial government's pre-emptive right to purchase land. All sale of land by either Māori or European would be transacted via the government.
  • Māori would accept the sovereignty of the Queen.
  • Māori would be guaranteed the same rights and privileges as those of all British subjects.
It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for the Maoris who had been in New Zealand for thousands of years to then experience the settlement of Europeans, whose culture, religion and spiritualism were so different from their own.  I think the lure of muskets and other guns to fight their enemies must have gone a long way to buying their alliance, acceptance and peaceful coexistence.  What did explorers like Captain Cook and other explorers think when they saw the lush green lands never charted before?

Our tour guide was a young Maori descendant and it was interesting to hear his perspective as well as the Maori outlook on spiritualism and an insight into the meaning of some of their rituals and carvings.  It is amazing how in tune with nature they were and how they had the ability to navigate their way from Polynesia to New Zealand, following the stars and migrating birds.  Today we study physics, aerodynamics yet their boats were brilliantly designed by looking at fish and birds and seeing the natural efficiency of scales and wings. I also wonder how they survived such a long journey using catamarans?

It was fascinating also to see reconstructions of a traditional Maori village both at Waitangi and at Rewa’s village in Kerikeri.  Huts were built using a Manuka frame with walls of bulrush and palm fronds.  Across the river we could see the stone store house belonging to the missionaries,  The Maori homes blended into the environment whereas the English homes stood out at odds with the forest.. 

We also visited the nearby Haruru Falls but resisted the temptation to go night kayaking, going instead to an Indian restaurant for a curry..

If ever I'm made redundant, I found the perfect library to work in.  It is set in sn old colonial house in Paihia and the children's library was in the former kitchen and the range is still there.

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