Ko te Reo kia tika ..
Ko te Reo kia rere ..
Ko te Reo kia Māori.
“It is important to us as Maori people, to continue, and perpetuate, our unique ways of understanding the world around us. In the past, our efforts have gone into instilling Maori language & cultural learning as early as kindergarten age. It is in the home, and from the home, that this culture and language needs to thrive, celebrating its only chance to survive …” Such are the important words of Maori Elder Whaia Olga, a charming 82-year-old who has been kind enough to welcome me into her beautiful Maori home here in Taupo, Central North Island New Zealand thanks to her family connection with my dear friend Ngahuia Tahau. What a unique, and wonderful opportunity for me as an international traveller forever interested in languages, culture & creative development, to listen to what this particular “Maori Whanau” family has to say.
Coming from a European “nucleus-family” background, the closeness among Maori people from multiple families & tribes is astounding to me. “Close” family here entails hundreds of people, literally everyone is welcomed as “coz”, “bro” or “sis”! I love this new form of togetherness.
“I know there is always going to be someone out there for me. I could live here for a while …”, Ngahuia tells me, casually pointing out some rooms or flats on different properties around town, “they all belong to my whanau (extended family). I like to think that we all care for each other. And such is the merit of our elder, Whaia Olga, to whom people come for advice and consultation. It really hasn’t changed much over the years.” Whaia Olga, or “Mother Olga”, has an Irish forefather that married into her Maori tribe, hence her maiden name Olga O’Keefe! She now lives in Taupo with her numerous children & grandchildren, generously inviting me to come and stay with her during my visit. Despite the difference in age, we are two of a kind and happily feed off each other’s knowledge and understanding of the world around us! She inspires me to be just like her when I reach her age: Kind, open-minded, out there & caring for the people & the land! Being the creative traveller I am, I get to teach her & her family our famous Austrian “Kaiserschmarren” recipe in return. Check this out.
Taking a walk around the township of Taupo, let me fill you in on such great traveller tips as the “Crafts Beer Movement” as well as some awesome local Street Art Graffiti!
“The wine world needs to watch out for what the crafts beer movement is doing in terms of innovation & business development!” Words from the #DWCC14 Digital Wine Communications Conference I recently attended still ring in my ears as I am being served two little casks of New Zealand home-brewed, crafts beer from Taupo. YUM! As a #winelover traveller, I merrily “swap sides” for a few hours, indulging in the delight of the local #beerlover society here at Lake Taupo. One of them even has Austrian roots to show: There you go, beer fans! Quality assured. 🙂
The whole magic, however, does not stop there. Around Taupo, make sure you take a fun, interactive nature culture forest walk with Ngahuia & visit Wairakei Terraces for a soak in their spa pools afterwards!
A true traveller’s delight. After embarking on the epic Tongariro Crossing together, Ngahuia Tahau, thanks to running her own eco-cultural Maori tour guiding business “Haerenga Tuhura”, is happy to introduce me to yet another side of the beautiful New Zealand nature around Lake Taupo: An eco-cultural forest walk near Lake Rotopounamu! This walk is easy to do on your own, but only half the fun. Let me tell you why everything is more interesting, and worthwhile, “in Maori”!
Check out even more stunning nature photography from Tongariro National Park here:
Disclaimer: I have been invited by Ngahuia to join her on the guided Nature Culture Forest Walk in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park. All opinions are my own.