By Holly Knight ’18
This blog post is written in response to Holly’s fall 2017 3-week trip to New Zealand led by Professors Doug Brattebo and Acacia Parks.
I had the incredible opportunity to study happiness in the beautiful country of New Zealand. While on this trip, we (a group of students and myself) got to go on many adventures, most of which none of us have ever done before. During my time back in the United States, I have been thinking and trying to decide, out of everything we did in New Zealand, what my favorites are. This constant thinking just led me to give in and realize that there is not one thing (or even a few things) I can pick out of the rest as my favorite adventure(s). We did some things as strenuous as our five hour long hike at Mount Tongariro, to things as relaxing as sitting in sand pools on Hot Water Beach. We learned more about chocolate at the Cadbury Factory, more about the government during our visit to Parliament, and more about the Maori at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Not only did we learn about the Maori (New Zealand’s natives) at the museum, we also got to learn more about the culture, up close, at a couple Maori Experiences.
My favorite Maori experience was at Tamaki Maori Village, while we were in Rotorua, New Zealand. While in the village, we watched and participated in many Maori cultural activities, songs, and performances. One of the men in our group was assigned to be the Chief of our tribe, and our Chief is who led us through the entire experience that day. We watched performances and some participated in performances, such as the Haka and Poi. Students also got to participate in some games that the Maori are known for playing. Among all of those activities, we also listened to many educational talks from the Maori people. We got to ask all the questions we wanted to, and they always had a very interesting answer.
As the day went on, the Maori experience got even better. The Maori had provided a steam box dinner for us, which was very delicious. We were given a large variety of foods, along with desserts that we were all trying for the first time. At the end of the day, the Maori people performed my absolute favorite song they sing, which is a love song. They dedicated the song to a loved one of their tribe (one of their chiefs), among other loved ones. It was a beautiful performance that had the entire room silent. It was the perfect way to end our Maori experience for the day.
Overall, the Maori experiences we went on while in New Zealand were not only educational, but they were also exciting, refreshing, touching, and enjoyable. I enjoyed learning and doing new things, and trying new foods. After our experiences, I now understand the culture of the Maori better than I thought I ever could. Yes, the Maori Experiences really stuck out to me, but that is not all. Just about every adventure we had in New Zealand ended up being a favorite of mine, and I would do all of it over again.