I woke up today feeling refreshed from my 10 and a half hours sleep. It’s an understatement to say that the 23 hour journey to get here took it out of me. It also took a heavy impact on my emotions as, and I’m not going to lie, I had a mini breakdown session.
I blame the lack of sleep these past 2 days. If my FitBit doesn’t lie, I had just over 2 hours. The 10 hour journey from Hong Kong to Auckland felt about 20. Add on another hour from the bus trip to my hostel and I was flat out exhausted. Who knew that sitting on your arse for so long could be so tiring. I thought Netflix gave me practice for this!
Anyhow, the mini ‘Matt freakout sesh’ as it shall be known, had me messaging my parents and a close friend about the crappy quality of the hostel and that I was sharing my room with 6 people that didn’t speak English. This was definitely a culture shock, which I guess, is part of experiencing the world.
Fast-forward to the next morning and…POW. I felt so much better. Thank you sleep. I thought I’d start off my New Zealand lifestyle by taking in some of the culture, what better way to learn about a new place than to learn its history. I did this by going Auckland Museum that documented the Maori and Pacific Islander culture.
The Maori galleries are loaded with artefacts from around the country, as well as plenty on national history and the wars the country have faced to gain independence. Spoiler alert, the English aren’t portrayed too well at times.
The museum itself is beautiful and the view of the parts of Auckland it looks over was worth the mini hill you have to walk to get to it. When you first step into the museum you are greeted by the Hotunui, an ancestral meeting house where conservation staff, community experts and Hotunui decendants are collaborating on the project. Auckland Museum are in the midst of working with the Taipari whanau (family) as kaitiaki (guardians) of Hotunui, along with Marutuahu iwi, particularly Ngati Maru, and other iwi stakeholder groups to complete this important restoration of Hotunui. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I did have to double check on the spelling then.
Anyhow, the aim of the project is to give people a rare opportunity to observe Maori weaving practices alongside modern museum conservation techniques.
One of the highlights of the museum for myself was the importance art is to the Maori culture. With each wooden craving, whether it be spears to hunt with, boats to carry groups from 3-100 people or items of clothing, each had their own unique design that represented the person and their heritage.
Each person was proud of the family they were born from which the art represented. In fact, pataka (a raised store-house) often had their doorways carved, marking an important symbolic threshold. In the photo above you can see the carved figure presiding over the doorway representing a deified creator-ancestor of the tribe.
Another part of the museum that really took my fancy was the sculptures that each had their own meaning/warning. The Maori people often carved face masks to represent those certain people that were not invited into that specific area.
Melanesian cultures created a huge variety of masks,in contrast to very few in Micronesia and virtually none in Polynesia. Masks allow their wearer to embody the spirits of the dead or other super-natural beings, bringing them into the affairs of this world.
After finishing looking at the history of the Maori I was shocked that a lot of it was from the 19th and 18th century. What was on show felt as if it was from a time way before then and I couldn’t help but think about what was happening in England at this time and comparing the two.
The next level looked into stories of our land and sea. The volcano part of the exhibition pretty much took my breath away. There was a story that a British Airlines flight a while back (the date I cannot remember) flew over a volcano in New Zealand that was active 2 hours prior. One by one the four engines of the plane failed, as it began its decent. The ash cloud they flew into caused the propellers to cease. As they continued to fall, a miracle took place and the engines once again began to operate. However, the danger didn’t stop their. Arranging to land at the closest airport, the pilot discovered a screen that covered the front window. A substance that covered the screen from the volcano had a reaction to turn white once it hit the air out of the ash cloud. The pilot discovered a small patch that had been unaffected so therefore an opportunity to see what was in front of him. Sitting on the armchair of his seat, the British pilot was able to successfully navigate the landing.
The Auckland Museum was definitely a good idea to do on my first full day. For the amount of information I took in, I feel pretty damn pleased that I remember this much! If I tell someone I learnt a lot, when they then ask “what did you learn?” my mind will then most likely go blank. Score one for Matt!
As I sit here typing this, thoughts of how to do the next year occupy my mind. I have a working visa that allows me to find a job, but a part of me would love to just explore New Zealand. Whether the amount of money I saved up will allow me to do this is another story.
My first impressions of Auckland is that it is a city that I wasn’t quite expecting. There doesn’t seem to be much of a New Zealand vibe, more of an international one I guess. It feels like it could be a city based somewhere in Greater London. Before coming out here, I read that people from New Zealand don’t like to live in Auckland and I’m beginning to understand that. There’s so much more of the place I want to see, but at the moment after I do a week here I’m contemplating of moving onto Rotorua and perhaps seeing if that makes me want to stay for awhile.
P.s. I saw this in the museum which has me convinced…TOTORO IS FROM NEW ZEALAND!!!! 😀