Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Trip Start Oct 23, 2011
136Trip End Mar 08, 2012
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I go on a guided tour at the Treaty Grounds and learn a lot more about the Treaty and the history of New Zealand and its peoples. Our guide is Jo Jo, a young Maori gal with a lot of knowledge. That is not her Mauri name, but she uses it because it is easier for people to remember
We learn that the drawings on the faces of the chiefs are like a resume. They detail all their accomplishments. They were done using carved bone. Many became ill and died from the practice. Survival was the hallmark of a leader. We learn about the waka, the canoe. The one at the grounds is a replica of the one used by the first Maori who came to New Zealand. It is much larger, however, than the one that was actually used. It is made from 3 Kauri trees. I have a picture of the trunk of one that I took at the grounds. It is enormous. We also visit the flagstaff, which marks the spot where the Treaty was first signed. The previous flag, initially preferred by the Maori, flies on an even level with the Union Jack flag, which is the one used today.
The carved Meeting House (Te Whare Runanga) is most impressive
I also learn that Cook was not the first European to come to New Zealand. Abel Tasman, of the ?Netherlands was, over 100 years earlier than Cook, according to Jo Jo. She tells us that Tasman approached the South Island but was unfamiliar with the customs of the Maori and he unbewittingly signaled that he was there to engage in battle. When the Maori responded he ran away and claimed that the land was occupied by savages. When Cook came he had a Polynesian person familiar with the customs in his party. He was thus able to approach the Maori in a more peaceful fashion. This is a perfect example of how important it is to get to know a culture before you visit or deal with it.
Speaking of savages, there is a copy in what was the Busby's home, of a Geography Book from 1838, published in Dublin, that says the world is made of Europe, Asia, Africa and America
The land of which the treaty grounds are a part consists of over 2300 acres. It was purchased in 1932 by Governor-General Lord Bledisloe and his wife, and was given in trust – through the Waitangi National Trust they established - to the New Zealand people. The land includes the surrounding Waitangi Endowment Forest, which consists of commercial forest along with native trees. The intent was to provide a scenic backdrop for the reserve as well as a source of funds for its upkeep. A prior potential purchase by some Americans for commercial purposes had fallen through, allowing the Bledisloes to purchase the land. Thank goodness. The gift is said to have redirected attention back to Waitangi and the documents and events which form the cornerstone of New Zealand nationhood. The news media referred to the Treaty as New Zealand's Magna Carta. The gift was purportedly welcomed by the Maori, who proposed the building of the Te Whare Runanga.
I ended my visit to the Treaty Grounds by attending the twilight performance put on by the talented Maori group of 2 men and 4 women. There were only 5 of us to view the performance, but we clapped very loudly – at their request
I walked back to the hostel, had dinner and got back to writing my blog. I need to get caught up, as I leave for Southeast Asia in a couple of days. I am going to make a concerted effort to write every day or other day. I keep handwritten notes in a little pocket notebook, but I could not find the time or energy to type up the actual blog when I was doing the tour. Hopefully this next one won’t be as busy. Not to the extent I can help it, it won’t.