On Top Of A New Zealand Volcano

“When NBA giant Steven Adams returned home to New Zealand this summer/winter (depending on your hemisphere) with an Oklahoma City Thunder contingent, he made a fast break for” Rangitoto Island – “a magnificent volcanic landmark in the Hauraki Gulf just off Auckland’s east coast,” writes Marsha Lederman in an article for The Globe and Mail.

Visiting the volcano is a meaningful experience steeped in Maori traditions, according to Lederman, who followed in Adams’ footsteps a few days later with Maori-owned and operated eco-tourism initiative Te Haerenga.

“This is not just the standard breathtaking hike to the summit with its almost unreasonably spectacular selfie opportunities – but an authentic, story-rich and environmentally sensitive experience led by indigenous guides,” writes Lederman.

Most of the people who visit Rangitoto each year are “completely oblivious to this cultural layer”, said James Brown, chairman of the Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki Tribal Trust and Lederman’s tour guide.

During the 30-minute ferry ride to Rangitoto Brown tells Lederman about “Peretu, a spiritual ancestor he describes as Rangitoto’s first occupant,” “the recent and ongoing treaty settlement activity with the Crown involving land that includes Rangitoto and Motutapu” and the island’s geological history.

When they arrive at the wharf, Brown “begins a prayer or karakia to acknowledge the creators, the Maori king, the ancestors – especially Peretu, ‘our dead, you and me and the world’”. Brown continues “to chant the Maori blessing while walking slowly across the long wharf”, writes Lederman. At the “waharoa – the carved gateway that marks the entrance to Rantigoto” he stops and gives the two poles the hongi, the traditional Maori greeting.

Walking up to Rangitoto’s nearly 260-metre summit, which “offers dramatic views of Auckland and beyond”, generally takes about 60 to 90 minutes. There are more than 200 species of native plants and hikers are accompanied by the “singsong delights of glorious birds.”

“Brown is full of stories – about ancient and modern history, the Maori and New Zealand, his own life and iwi, even the tours themselves.”

“The key to the experience is the dialogue – sparked as much by the tourist as the tour guide,” according to Lederman.

“My hope on our departure is that you have an increased confidence around not just Maori as a people but New Zealand as a country,” Brown told Lederman on the way back to Auckland.

Article Source: The Globe and Mail, Marsha Lederman, September 15, 2016

Image Source: Wikipedia


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