Monday, January 25, 2010

Full circle

The day I arrived in New Zealand, I had my head shaved by a very nice hairdresser in Auckland.
To come full circle, I went back to him the day I left New Zealand. I had been growing my hair out since April and so decided to get my hair blowdried that time. When I showed up, he recognized me! And as he blowdried my hair, we went over the past year in New Zealand. What a way to leave beautiful Aotearoa!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Paua...a follow-up

I never showed you the inside of a paua shell. They use these in New Zealand for all sorts of things. First, to eat the flesh inside (refer to entry in Stewart Island), but then also for making jewelry, decorating furniture or walkways and for ashtrays (though that's kind of a shame because you hide its beauty.

I ate from this shell and kept it as a souvenir.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stone, anyone?

This may look like just a stone. Nothing interesting, perhaps. It is special, however. This stone comes from the bum of something like this!

When I went to the Otago Peninsula in August, our guide found this stone and asked who wanted it. A British woman immediately grabbed it. She was faster than I was. I expressed interest in finding another one and in her infinite kindness, the woman gave me hers instead.
It is a poop stone!
Sea lions swallow these stones to help them digest their food and then they poop them out all nice and smooth.
Lucky me to have possession of such a thing!
(refer back to entry on Otago Peninsula if you'd like to know a bit more about these giants!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Taa Moko

I have been wanting to get a tattoo for a year now, but not just any tattoo. I didn't want to walk into a tattoo parlor and just pick any old design from a booklet. And because I've been learning a lot about New Zealand and its culture, I wanted something that was significant to my experience here; a symbol of my year here and the things I've learned in my life leading up to this point.

I did a lot of research, looking for someone who would give me a taa moko, a Maori tattoo. I wanted it done the traditional way, with a chisel, something organic and spiritual.

I found Rangi Kipa, a well-known and well-respected carver and tattoo artist. He, along with a few of his friends, brought about the resurgence of traditional chiseled taa moko 17 years ago.

Below are some of Rangi Kipa's carvings.

Whale tooth carvings

whale bone carving (unfinished)

After chatting for a while, Rangi being very patient and answering all my questions (and you know how much I can talk!) we started.

The chisels he made for the taa moko (they are made of whale tooth)

Close-up of uhi (chisels)

Rangi just started drawing on my shoulder, knowing what I wanted it to represent and then took a picture of it and waited for my okay.

Drawing of taa moko

Below: intro to the process

Below: The uhi at work

The end result!

I love it!

Me and Rangi Kipa post taa moko

To see more of what Rangi does, check out his website:

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Cool video because they show Maori life here. These guys are a Maori reggae band. They're old school. 

Dave Dobbyn

This song is kind of a Kiwi classic, sung at cricket matches and other such crazy events. 


Mount Taranaki

In Maori legend two mountains, Taranaki and Tongariro (the latter located in Taupo) both fell in love with Pihanga. They battled over her and Tongariro won the battle, sending Taranaki off and down to the Western coast of the north island where he now rests outside of New Plymouth.

I headed to this area in New Zealand, the last place I wanted to see before leaving this awesome country. Mount Taranaki greeted me with its majesty and I was compelled to stare at it for the hour it took to get from Hawera to New Plymouth.

I was picked up by family of friends I had made in Wellington. Katrina and her daughter Siena took me to Waitara where I was to stay for the next two nights. Katrina went above and beyond her role of host by showing me around New Plymouth, Waitara and Parihaka. I would never have been able to see nearly as much without her.


Waitara is a suburb of New Plymouth, about 20 minutes away.

This marae is the only marae I have actually been to that is as carved as this one. Most marae are simpler, and the more detailed ones are often found in museums. We weren't able to go inside, but when we peeped through the window, we could see a lot more carvings gracing the walls.

Below, different shots of the marae.

Siena with warrior

Bell Block Beach

Bell Block is another suburb of new Plymouth.

New Plymouth

Len Lye was a Kiwi artist known for his kinetic sculptures. He made a few versions of what is called a wind wand. Wellington has a more rudimentary version, but New Plymouth invested in the final version. Though the plans for this wind wand were never realized in his lifetime, the 45-meter high wind wand in New Plymouth was built and installed a few years ago. Basically, the idea is that this wand bends with the wind, giving an indication of how strong the wind is.

Little wind

Stronger wind

The waterfront in New Plymouth has undergone serious work and is quite a beautiful walk on a nice day. A few minutes away from the center of the city is where the Sugar Loaf Islands are found. This is a gorgeous area and quite popular with the surfers.

Fur seals can be found in this area too.

Sugar Loaf Islands

The next day, I took a walk around town and went to St. Mary's Church, which is the oldest stone church in New Zealand. Though I didn't go inside, I was really charmed by the grounds. They have a nice grove of beeches that lent a really special atmosphere to the area.

Above St. Mary's Church is Marsland Hill, which has a nice view of New Plymouth.

Below: 360 degree view from Marsland Hill

Exposed Corillian

Later in the afternoon, Katrina came to pick me up and thought we should go back to Marsland Hill to see if we could see the mountain that time and it was as though the gods were listening because the clouds had parted and the view was exquisite.

Mount Taranaki

I would not be allowed to leave New Plymouth without going to Pukekura Park so we stopped in and took in the sights. From this view below, you can also see the mountain in the background (though not in this particular picture).

The next day I was to take the bus to Auckland, but we first headed over to Parihaka, a very important community for Maori people. Parihaka was the area where Maori people, led by the prophets Te Whiti and Tohu, staged a passive resistance against the Crown for the confiscation of their land. They were jailed, abused and killed, but the resistance continued. Today Parihaka is a symbol of resistance through peaceful means and is a greatly respected place.

Many families still live in this community and they still uphold the concepts of their predecessors. Te Whiti and Tohu's passive resistance strategy was used by Ghandi 60 years later.

It's a beautiful place, somewhere I'd like to go back to in the future and spend more time at.


Monument to Te Whiti

View of Mount Taranaki from Parihaka