One afternoon, I mentioned the fact that I wanted to try Puha, a "weed" as the white Kiwis consider it, I think from the dandelion family. Maoris eat it and though there were plenty of puhas to choose from at Mimiha cottage, I didn't know how to cook it and wanted to try it properly from someone who knew how to do it before I tried cooking it myself.
We had a delicious meal along with Alix and two young kiwis, a couple...he's 20 and she just turned 18 and they are pregnant. That's something else about New Zealand that I find really surprising. People have kids and get married really, really young here. You'll regularly find 45 year olds who are grandparents. It's so beyond me. They are cute though, and I do hope they make it.
Me and Kaianga with Alix in the background
Anyway, to go back to a more general explanation of my time there, I did not expect to have such a spiritual experience in Rotorua, meeting Kaianga as well as a French woman, Alix, at the same time. I remember sitting outside at a picnic table smoking menthols and drinking wine and then the next moment I was involved in conversations about the meaning of life, the Mayan calendar, ancestors visiting Maori tattoo artists in their sleep and finding the reason for being here... I was lightheaded by the overflow of information being exchanged. It was exhilerating and exhausting at the same time. I loved it. I have yet to find that energy since, but it has stayed with me and I'm grateful for having met them.
Kaianga suggested that I go to Hastings, a town along the east coast of the North Island, to find seasonal work and since he comes from the Mahia peninsula, not too far away from there, I figured we'd get a chance to meet again.
But again, I learned so much from him and I don't think that it's over quite yet. He also carves wood and stone and the day before I left, he gave me a piece of jade that he had found a while back. It was just waiting for the right owner and he decided that I was that owner. He told me that I needed to find someone who could make it into a necklace for me. I was honored that he would give me such a gift. I had nothing to give him in return. But I think we'll see each other again and perhaps I'll have something to give in return. He told me to trust that I would find someone to make this stone into a neckland and I did...but that's another story to come.
Rotorua on a Sunny Day
He showed me some of his carvings in the stones and also explained to me that a lot of the time, the Maori artifacts he has often come from a bartering system: he has something someone wants, like the ability to give a tattoo, or a carving and they would have something like the whale bone club above. He also plays music, including the guitar and various Maori instruments. Below, a video of a Maori flute with Kaianga playing it.