Thursday, April 14, 2011

WC 2011 Napier

Our stop in Napier was a wonderful experience.

The setting is beautiful.

CruiseGran took a “highlights” tour in the morning, but I signed up for Crystal’s new program- “You Care We Care”. On every cruise, at least one excursion is offered focusing on “voluntourism”- in some way, giving back to the communities we visit.

In the morning, I enjoyed watching logs being loaded with great precision.

I know for some this would be as exciting as watching paint dry, but I find it fascinating!

In the afternoon, Cousin Andi, fellow guest Kathy from Los Angeles, and Ambassador Host John and I set off for Hakikino to learn about and work with the Maori. We visited WaimaramaMaori .

Hakikino is a sacred place where the Maori have lived for over 700 years. They have opened their lives and ways to the world in order to raise awareness, to encourage their children to embrace their historical heritage and to provide the generations to come with an area full of both history and hope.

We had no idea what to expect when we signed up for this volunteer excursion. We were so delighted with our experiences. We were greeted with a traditional Maori welcome, or Powhiri, complete with challenges, offerings and singing, and finally, a Hongi (pressing noses and foreheads together), the Maori version of a kiss on the cheek. This welcome is a very special and sacred ceremony, which could not be photographed.**

We traded bits of information about ourselves and we (the for “Crystal” folks) even had to SING a song as a gesture of greeting! We spontaneously remembered the Girl Scout song “Make New Friends, but Keep the Old. One is Silver and the Other Gold.” Perfectly appropriate!

After the wonderful welcome, we learned a little about their land at Hakakino and their plans for the future.

We were taken down to the plant nursery, where we learned about their project to replant their lands with native species, thereby preserving their lands in their original, unspoiled condition.

This is called a "cabbage tree"--because the leaves taste like....cabbage!

Thistles are beautiful!!

We planted TREES!!!!

Andi's manicure survived!

We laughed hysterically...

We sang to encourage the plants to grow well...

We learned about their native music and how it plays such an important role in their lives.

We chatted and told stories and shared life experiences.

We learned so much- how, even though our lives a dissimilar and we live on opposite sides of the world, we, as adults and parents, all share the same concerns and dreams for our children.

It was one of the most memorable afternoons of my life.

We had a final end-of-day song....

(click on the photo to go to the movie)

And to end it all, we were given the chance to see a spontaneous HAKA!

(click on the photo to go to the movie)

If you cruise with Crystal Cruises, be sure to investigate the voluntourism excursions offered. They are free, and I guarantee that you will come away with a deeper appreciation of the world we all share!

** Well, WE didn't, but if you take a look at Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations episode on New Zealand, part 3, starting at 7:39 and at the beginning of Part 4 you will see it.

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