Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Part I: Entry onto the Marae

I'm putting together a few posts to describe the two day Maori training I went to and some of the things I learned.

There was a special ceremony that the Maori performed before they could let us on the marae. We had to be asked via a song to enter the Marae, we (one Maori lady in our group) had to sing back to request entry and then we walked in a group towards the lodge.

We stopped halfway to the door to remember the dead. Then we were let in the lodge after taking off our shoes. The women were in the front when we walked in but then the men took the front seats when we entered the lodge. They put the women up front going towards the lodge (just in case fighting breaks out), but then inside the lodge the men were suppose to protect and sit in the front.

Then there were a lot of songs and prayers in Maori that I couldn't understand, but it sounded sacred. Then the training became more informal. We were laying on mats inside the lodge during the training, between eating the five meals that we were served each day. It was really a great venue for learning about Maori culture, way better than sitting in a hotel conference room! The trainer said we could sleep if we wanted but it was entertaining enough to keep us occupied throughout the training. It also helped to have a roomful of people who were very interested in learning about Maori history. It was an international group (UK, Croatia, Russia, India, Ireland, US and Kiwi) of students all of whom worked in my office.

I learned during the course of the training that gaining entrance into the Marae is one of the most difficult things to do. Though, I don't really understand why. Just hire a consultant who knows the songs and customs. This is what eventually came out of the entire training, plus an extra 4 kilos because of all the food. No really, I'll be posting more on the New Zealand Declaration of Indepence, Treaty of Waitangi and a brief review of current status of Maori/gringo relations. I think the gringo term holds relevance in NZ as well as Costa Rica.

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