Mystical. By name.
Intrigued. Right from the first time I heard of its fame.
The Riwaka Resurgence. Or in Maori, Te Puna o Riuwaka.
Somewhere beneath the Takaka Hill, in the breathtaking surrounding of the Northwestern top of the South Island lies a beautiful gem of nature secretly hidden in the depth of a little forest. Embraced by an unbelievably green, mossy wonderland.
Where the river begins, a place for healing. A mysteriously traveling water suddenly emerging from the vast network of caves. Out of nowhere. Making its way through the rocks. Surfacing and reviving. Fresh and cold. Spilling life. Chrystal clear green and blue layers twinkling in and out of the shade.
Riwaka Resurgence - one of the many truly amazing places where one can experience the wonders of this unique land and understand a bit of the strong Maori spiritual heritage of New Zealand. Nature and culture hand in hand. This is one of the reasons why I love it so much here. Let me take you there. :)
The Mount. Located somewhere in paradise, at the very end of the road leading through a narrow peninsula. In the heart of the Bay of Plenty. Majestically dominating the land. Captivating, iconic, round. One of its kind.
Once you make it to the top, what you see will definitely blow your mind. Spectacular. Incomparable. Pristine.
I'm not kidding, seriously, this is the view from the top. Been there, climbed it, saw it. Magical.
Join me for one of New Zealand's most popular summit walks? Let's go! :)
Festivals. I haven’t really been a festival person per say. Not that I don’t like to have fun, music, and dance. :) It’s just that the festivals I have known so far - mostly musical - never really attracted me truly, deeply. I enjoyed them, but I never really felt the “HELL YEAH” feeling. Neither during, nor after. They never enriched me with an experience of a lifetime, or unforgettable memories. Except for some dance festivals.
I guess now all this is changing. During the past few months living in New Zealand, my world has grown wide open. (And I thought it was already pretty wide…) In many many walks of life. Including the festival scene. Here are some of my reflections after amazing Earthbeat.
We spent the last weekend in Awhi Farm - a centre for sustainable practice. The name in Maori means "to take care of", "to nurture". It is a little paradise in the middle of nature. Isolated from the "modern, hight tech world". No electricity, maybe just some solar panels. No heating, just your sleeping bag. No light at night, just the moon and the shining stars above you, and in the morning, waking you up, the first ray of light. Compost toilet or the bush. Shower only at the Squash Club nearby, or at the natural hot pools. No charger for your phones, but real birds chirping around. No supermarket on the corner, yet a fascinating food forest and hens that nourish you. Just pure nature.
You loose connectivity, yet reconnect. With the people around you. With yourself.
Simplicity, at its best.
I love long weekends. The first long weekend that came up since our arrival was Labour Day weekend. New Zealand celebrates it on the 4th Monday of October. It is very similar to the May 1 celebrations in Europe. It marks the beginning of the official BBQ season. Gardening stores fill up their spring flower stocks and go on huge sales with a myriad of colours in blossom. They also start heating the pools, slowly paving the way for summer days. :) A perfect time to enjoy the outdoors and escape into pure nature.
Labour Day couldn't have happened in a better moment. This year. For us. This long weekend was a special one. We celebrated. A first birthday. Parenthood. Ourselves. :)
So we picked a special place to visit. We went to discover the most Northern part of the North Island, the Far North, the tip of New Zealand, aka the Northland region. Where the road ends. Where the seas meet.
I always had something about peninsulas. They just look so fascinating on the map. Almost like an island. They are attached to the land yet still out there on their own. I can get so excited to walk along the shore, discover the parts that are next to the water, to see how the landscape curves and where it will lead me. Have you ever had this feeling?
As we were planning our weekend, we realised that the place to pick up the piece of furniture we were still missing from our flat is just located in a beautiful area. Well, it is not really hard in New Zealand not to be located in a beautiful place anyway... So we decided to combine the pick up with the discovery of the Mahurangi Peninsula, just about an hour's drive north from Auckland.
"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." - Maori proverb
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New Zealand celebrated the Māori Language Week between 27 July and 2 August this year. It is a tradition ever since 1975 - and 2015 marks the 40th Anniversary! The celebration is a nice initiative to conserve and promote linguistic diversity and encourage the daily use of more Māori words.
The main topic is "Whāngaihia te reo Māori ki ngā mātua" - helping parents to pass te reo (the language) on to their children. :)
Although most of the speakers are ethnic Māoris, many New Zealanders use Māori words and expressions mixed within the English language, like “Kia ora” - Hello.
The first Māori settlers came by canoes from the Eastern Polynesian islands and villages - the mythic homeland “Hawaiki” - around 1280. Māori developed in isolation until the 19th century. It was the dominant language in New Zealand, yet not a written one until the arrival of European Missionaries who attempted to write it down first in 1814.
Despite the fact that Te reo Māori - the Māori language became protected under the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, signed by the British Crown and Māori chiefs, the increasing use of English and politics put the state of the Māori language at risk - at one point, it was even suppressed and forbidden in schools to facilitate faster assimilation of the Māoris. In the middle of the 20th century, there were fears that Māori was actually dying out! The recognition of the danger of loosing the language led to recovery and revitalisation. The Māori language became an official language of New Zealand only in 1987 with the passing of the Māori Language Act.
Some quick facts:
Some useful words to know when you are in New Zealand:
It was actually very interesting to see that many parenting resources f.ex., such as brochures on early childhood development and education used a mixture of both languages. Here is an extract of one of them:
If you would like to know more about the Māori language, here are some nice links to start with:
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