Day 30

We arrived at Tauranga this morning at about 7 a.m. and set off on our excursion by 8:15 a.m. on the four-hour “Maori Culture and Tauranga Highlights” tour. Our education began on the bus ride with a cheat-sheet explaining the cultural protocols we needed to know before we entered the sacred marae (gathering place). The guide had us practicing saying Maori vowels followed by repeating song words until we got it right. The guide then reviewed the script for a Pohiri (formal welcoming ceremony). There would be a procession through the Waharoa (gateway) with women first, led by a chief.

A local warrior would approach in a highly animated and vocal threatening manner and place an offering on the ground. If the visiting chief picks it up they come in peace. We sat down in chairs and a senior woman began the Karanga (chant).The tribal chief delivered a speech (Whaikorero) to us in the Maori language followed by another song (Waiata). Everyone had to pass through the reception line for the traditional greeting (Hongi), which involves touching noses and foreheads with the tribe’s representatives. This is the most sacred part of the ceremony as it represents life, peace, and knowledge.

We entered the meeting house, after taking off our shoes, to pay respect to their elders who had passed on. There were pictures and drawings on a front wall and the side walls were decorated with fine woven tapestries. We adjourned to a meeting house for tea and cookies with some shopping for some of their fine hand-made crafts.

From here we went to a local Maori immersion school where all classes were taught in the Maori language. High school students performed traditional song and dance routines for us. They answered many questions (in English) after their presentation.

We stopped at several scenic vistas of the Bay of Plenty on our return trip. There are three dormant volcanoes in this area. Mount Maunganui is most prominent at the entrance to the Bay of Plenty.

After lunch, we entered a baggo (cornhole) game on deck and actually won and received 3 Regent points. Later, in trivia, we came in second and received 2 points. This was a good day for games.

Dr. George Losey presented a talk on the “Down Under Geology of New Zealand.” He explained how millions of years ago New Zealand and Australia broke off from Antarctica and floated north. He also discussed some of the unique species in New Zealand, such as kiwis, moa, and some lizards.

Tonight was a formal night, with a cocktail party introducing the ship’s officers to our new guests. We have a new captain onboard, Master Ubaldo Armellino, who just returned from his ten-week vacation. His schedule is ten weeks on, ten weeks off. I’ll bet you wish you had that type of job.

Entertainment this evening was comedian Simon Palomares. He really was very funny, doing jokes about family life, his Spanish background, and ship life.

Yours in travel,

Pat and Mac