Through the eyes of Maori

New Zealand Radio Training School students from Whitireia NZ experiencing Maori culture
New Zealand Radio Training School students from Whitireia NZ experiencing Maori culture. Image / Supplied

It’s not every day you get the opportunity to see, taste, or get involved in Maori culture – even if, like myself, you have lived here in Aotearoa for a long time.

Students from the New Zealand Radio Training School recently experienced just that – a Noho Marae (overnight stay) at Te Tahawai Marae, which is located on the Edgewater College grounds in Pakuranga.

Te Tahawai Marae is known as a pan-tribal marae, welcoming everyone and educating the wider community about Maori culture and traditions.

Students were welcomed to the marae by the haunting but soothing sounds of the Karanga (welcome song), the Kaumatua (elders) then spoke and shared their history.

“I was nervous as, but felt so much mana and relieved when I did the Whai korero (speech) on behalf of our class,” says student Jahmaine Paaki.

The “village life” was quickly adopted by everyone. We learned about the poi, stick dance, flower-making with harakeke (flax), and how to  prepare a hangi from scratch. The women prepared the vegetables, while the men were outside creating the hangi pit.

“I’ve done other hangis before, but [creating the hangi] meant a lot more – to bond with my classmates,” says student Hugh Jannings.

The aromas from the hangi filled the air, and as we all sat to feast together, the rewards of working together as whanau (family) were accomplished.

“This hangi was absolutely amazing, that crispy skin on the pork was so yum,” reflects student Caitlin Harper.

The short trip was a memorable one that brought together students from different cultural backgrounds. It allowed us to see the fruits of our hard work through maramatanga (understanding) and aroha (love). And we immersed ourselves in Maori culture.

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