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Lindsay: Maori Culture

July 27, 2010

I have my first test tomorrow! It’s for my ENGL112 class: Literature and Theatre of Aotearoa. I will either be writing on the play we read, and what remains, by Miria George or one of the many poems we read by Hone Tuwhare. I think I will probably write about and what remains because I don’t do so well with poems. At least with the play there is a story line with a theme that I can recognize. Poetry is often beyond me, although some of it is very interesting once you learn the author’s meaning behind it.

This week is also Te Wiki o te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week). And the theme is food! Something I can totally get behind. So for this week I am making use of the 100 Maori Words Ever New Zealander Should Know, mostly because I know even less than the average New Zealander.

Speaking of Maori, there is something very interesting that I have noticed about the Pakeha/Maori relationship, especially when thinking about the Native American relationship with people in the States. New Zealand seems to pride itself on its ‘bi-cultural foundation’. Everything seems to have an English name here and a Maori name. Especially everything on campus. I have noticed that every single Lecture hall has the typical “Kirk LT 301″ kind of name and underneath there is the Maori name. Or for example, the Maori name for Victoria University is Te Whare Wananga o te Upoko o te Ika a Maui. I don’t think any Universities in the States have any kind of Native American language names for everything.

Although Maori here have had many problems with retaining or regaining land that was promised to them in the Treaty of Waitangi, they are much better off than the Native Americans. It seems like the Native American’s biggest contribution to American culture is place names (and people frequently don’t even know which Native American language they come from) and kitschy tourist shops and attractions in the west. And casinos. Here however, Maori culture seems to be greatly respected. There are even Maori immersion schools all the way from Pre-school to High school for Maori children to learn their language.

On a more personal note, I am going traveling this weekend! Friday morning I am taking a taxi to the Wellington Airport and taking my flight to Gisborne. I’m really excited. Probably my favorite thing about my Australearn week was being able to sit in the car and look out the window. That’s one of my favorite things about any road trip. It’s probably even more so because the landscape here is so much different. So I get to just stare out the window for an hour! It sounds boring but I’m really excited. And it’s an Air New Zealand flight, so it has great service.

Another thing I have been doing lately is gathering recipes. As I talked about last time, I’ve been kind of struggling through the dorm food and I miss American food. So I have taken to looking through recipe and food sites in my spare time and making a collection of recipes I’d like to make when I get home.

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