The world’s largest celebration of Māori traditional performing arts is in the capital.
Held every two years, Te Matatini is a whānau-friendly, alcohol-free and smoke-free event and I’m one of the thousands to watch kapa haka’s finest 46 teams (out of 163 contenders this time) competing for the ultimate prize: as well as pride, the title of te toa whakaihuwaka.
I just heard a kaumatua say, on RNZ National, that matatini is for all, ‘from two to toothless’ 🙂
Here is a glimpse of the prizes they want to win;
And some action from the powhiri at Waitangi Park on Wednesday … more to follow on Instagram and other social media tomorrow – from inside the Westpac Stadium here in Wellington.
Christchurch Otautahi was shaken, not stirred by its quakes and New Zealand’s ‘Garden City’ earned itself a hipper nickname after the earthquake’s devastation and there were T-shirts proclaiming ‘Christchurch – The City That Rocks!’ – I wonder if they are still around?
Christchurch thrives not just on pretty gardens and quake humour, but on sport too. Locals are often described as ‘one-eyed’ by fellow Kiwis, due to the unshakeable belief that the Crusaders rugby team is the best in the land if not the world!
Canterbury considers its lamb the best in New Zealand and so, the world. Make up your own mind about the food on your Christchurch holiday and join local foodies at the many places that showcase local, seasonal food and well as all the ethnic food restaurants in the city.
You could also head over-the-hill to sample fruity wines in the vineyards of the volcanic Banks Peninsula. While there, try the crumbly cheddar, Havarti and Gouda from 19th-century Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory which I’ve frequented since I was a child – many of my ancestors settled on the peninsula in the mid-1800s.
Sweet-toothed people can head to She Chocolat restaurant in Governors Bay where even the main courses are laced with the lovely brown stuff.
Enterprising Māori traded produce with early English settlers in Christchurch and their culture continues to make its mark on the city. Check out vibrant poi and haka performance and feast on a traditional hangi dinner at Ko Tane, a ‘living Maori village’ at Willowbank.
You don’t have to be a super-sleuth to find the old timber home of our local whodunit writer Dame Ngaio Marsh – it’s nestled in the lower Cashmere Hills and is well signposted for those wanting a tour.
I’m in my hometown for the next ten days so follow me on Instagram (kiwitravelwriter) for photos and, of course, more blogs will follow soon.
My first few days I will be staying at the fabulous Classic Villa– opposite the Arts Centre.
Coffee is apparently the most legally traded commodity in the world: The World Bank estimates there are some 500 million people who are involved with the coffee trade and I help support that trade!
New Zealand, until about 1940, was largely a tea drinking nation. However, the first coffee shop in Christchurch was called the Coffee Palace and was in Market Square (now Victoria Square) in the mid-1800s. Sadly, I can’t find the photo I once saw of it, beside the animal pound and a women’s prison in the early city beginings.
I knew I was going to have a long affair with coffee by the time I was 8 years old. Staying with an auntie, while my father was in hospital, I was impressed with not only her shiny pink and black tile bathroom, but the smell of the liquid coffee and chicory that she brewed. That’s when I fell in love – and have remained in love-with fabulous coffee. And, like most New Zealanders (kiwis) I only drink in locally owned cafes with our regular double-shot drinks – not international or chain shops.
Chicory was grown for coffee in the Christchurch area from about the 1870s. I was surprised to find instant coffee – which many Kiwi still drink -was started in Invercargill, New Zealand, when David Strang applied for a patent for his soluble coffee powder in 1889.
In the early 1960s, I frequented places such as the Swiss Chalet which was downstairs in Tramway Lane off Cathedral Square and also a coffee shop in Chancery Arcade, which was rumoured to serve, not only coffee but Irish coffee too! In those days I drank espresso with a little hot milk and cinnamon sprinkled on top. I not only thought but also knew, I was so sophisticated 😊 😊
With my first pay from Christchurch hospital – I worked in the pharmacy – I bought a coffee grinder. Until then our family had bought ground coffee every week. Now I knew we would have even better coffee as it would be ground as we needed it for our percolator. We bought our coffee on Cashel Street and I loved browsing and smelling, the bean bins every week to choose the coffee beans to take home. Trevor Smith, the owner started roasting beans in the 1940s and I believe his son Bernard Smith still roasts coffee beans for cafés under the name Vivace Espresso.
Some coffee history
In the early 1500s, Yemen created or found a new drink – made from the fruit of an Ethiopian plant. It was quickly popular and by the 17th century in England, France and Holland the citizens loved it. The first English coffee houses opened in Oxford in 1651 and London in 1652
Interestingly Charles 2nd thought the coffee houses were dangerous to his reign and he sent spies to hear what was being said and, in 1675 he proclaimed coffee houses to have evil and dangerous effects and tried to suppress them.
In Paris (1689) the new Café de Procope made drinking coffee more popular there and in London, the Lloyds Coffee House became the powerful, international, insurance underwriter.
Apparently, over 800 different chemical ingredients have been identified, however, the basic principal of roasting raw green beans in a rotating drum over heat has remained consistent for a couple of hundred years.
Green coffee can be stored for ages, but roasted, it immediately begins to lose its flavour – the sooner after roasting and grinding it’s drunk the better -that’s why I drink an espresso. Black coffee delivers the kick I like and the satisfying after-taste – the result of the crema – the mixture of gas oils, waters and fine grounds that sits on the top of an espresso. There is nowhere for a barista to hide any lack of skills with my ‘long black’.
The top coffee producers are Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia, Mexico, Indonesia, and the Ivory Coast while the top consumers (by tonnes) are USA, Brazil, Germany, Japan, France, and Italy. I think per capita New Zealand would rank highly!
Sadly, Charles 2nd was right, as poverty, violence, exploitation, environmental devastation, political oppression, and corruption have all been linked to coffee – and still are. Thinking about my time in cafés, I guess they still can be hotbeds of gossip and intrigue.
The day started for me at 4 o’clock in the morning when I went down to the Wellington waterfront to watch a hangi being prepared on the edge of Whairepo (stingray Lagoon, in front of the Wharewaka.
However, for the men cooking the hangi it had started at 2 a.m. I hadn’t been there very long when to the dismay of all , the automatic sprinkler system to water the lawns began pumping out litres of water – not good when you have a fire going.
The fire of course is essential for cooking the food and it became scramble to protect the flames which were heating, not volcanic stones as my husband used, but pieces of iron which are also great heat conductors.
Of course a great hangi master saved the fire and the food emerged after 3 hours – a great 10am breakfast for me.
Here are my photos which tell the story from my arrival until I had the food at about 10 a.m.
Some background about this building
Wharewaka o Poneke opened on Waitangi Day 2011 – and I was there – and during the dawn opening, Wellington’s Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, said
“It’s a building you couldn’t see anywhere else in the world. Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika have delivered Wellington a wonderful asset that reminds us all of their place in the city – their history on the waterfront and their future as well.”
Here are some photos I took at the opening – just a few months after I moved to Wellington, NZ
Sir Ngatata Love, chairman of the Wharewaka o Poneke Charitable Trust, said he was excited to see the Wharewaka open. “This has been planned since the 1990s and I’m delighted we’re now able to bring waka culture to Wellington’s waterfront.”
The outside of the building is based on a korowai (cloak), which symbolises mana and prestige, and mirrors the traditional sails of the waka fleet.
Finally, those of you who follow me on social know the wharewaka and lagoon is where my U3A group meets for our Monday morning walks.
Tomorrow is Waitangi Day – 6th February – and all over the New Zealand people will be celebrating and, or, commemorating the day our country began its journey of two nations learning to live together. And, no doubt, for some it will be just a great public holiday.
I will be joining other Wellingtonians on our waterfront at the Wharewaka, beside the Whairepo (stingray) Lagoon – for a hangi: a tasty meal cooked in the traditional Māori way, underground. If you follow my blogs, or Facebook, you will know that’s also where I meet friends every Monday morning to leave for a walk and coffee. I plan on being there in time to take photos of the process and will blog about it in a day or so.
I urge every Kiwi (New Zealander) to attend Waitangi Day AT Waitangi at least once in their life it’s a fabulous event. (Just make sure you book your accommodation – whether it’s a hotel of campsite – early!)
I hear some people say it’s all protests and activism: my experience from spending 4 days in the Bay of Islands proved this is a false view that’s perpetuated by lazy, mainstream media. Of course, there are protests – a we are a healthy democracy – and I too have been involved in Treaty protests in the past. The Treaty is a Fraud, and Stop Treaty Celebrations we chanted as we complained that our founding document was not being honoured. Things have changed tremendously over the past years and I now love to celebrate our heritage; have we got it right, do we still have much to do? Absolutely. Are we on the right track? Most certainly.
During my only time at Waitangi, Paihia, on our national day, I saw families, tourists, and kiwi all having a great time. It was a combo of ceremony; navy, politicians, music; opera, jazz, blues, soul, Māori Cultural shows, stalls, sideshows, and of course the gathering of the ceremonial waka.
Some background: the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is the place where Māori chiefs, in 1840, first signed their agreement with the British Crown – Te Tiriti of Waitangi. In the grounds are the historic Treaty House, a carved meeting-house and the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe and of course panoramic views of the Bay of Islands.
Te Whare Rūnanga (the House of Assembly) is a carved meeting-house facing the Treaty House, the two buildings symbolising the partnership agreed between Māori and the British Crown and the house opened on 6 February 1940 – 100 years after the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Another important feature is the flagstaff which marks the spot where the Treaty was first signed on 6 February 1840. (it then travelled much of New Zealand and many other Chiefs signed on behalf of their Iwi. The flags that fly are the three official flags that New Zealand has had since 1834 – the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand (from 1834), the Union Jack (from 1840) and the New Zealand flag (from 1902).
Here are few photos I took a few years ago – and one day I will go there again for this unique day.
I often wonder where is New Zealand on the map – because sometimes, quite often, New Zealand is not on the map – it’s disappeared completely!
It seems I’m not the only one to ask that question – in fact, recently a world map was shown to many in Britain who were asked ‘what’s missing?‘ It seems, according to this news snippet in the local newspaper (Dominion Post) that many of the Brits did not notice New Zealand had apparently sunk below the sea.
So, why is New Zealand left off maps? I wondered is it our size – and checked other island countries to see where we compare sizewise.
Japan – which is on the map – is 377 915 km.²
New Zealand – not on the map – is 268,000 km.²
And, the UK,smaller than New Zealand, at 243 610 km² is on the map
And even tiny Tasmania, the island at the bottom of Australia, weighing in at only 68,401 km² is also on the map. Seems many cartographers need to get a little perspective on their drawings.
So, let me show you where New Zealand is on this globe – a photo I took at the Canterbury Museum, in Christchurch, New Zealand: that’s us, to the right, and a little south of, Australia , which is about a four hours flight away – if you were wondering.
As you can see, New Zealand is directly above Antarctica and which is why Christchurch, New Zealand has for many years been the jumping off place, the gateway, for most polar expeditions.