Journey to Waitaia

Monday May 6, 2019

Millie and Alison here!

After yesterday’s pre-dawn wake-up call to climb Mt. Maunganui for the sunrise, today we we able to sleep in a little. We started out trek this morning to Waitaia Lodge, a Maori owned rainforest and traditional land where the traditional knowledge of foods and medicines are taught and practiced. We stopped along the way at Gate Pa Memorial Reserve, where Doug our tour guide talked to us about the Maori war strategies and the significance of the land as a place where Maori women and children sought sanctuary from the wars.

We participated in a Powhiri – a formal Maori welcome to this special place where the two elder Maori (Lance and Rowinia) sang to greet us.  We sang our song the song we learned My Heart Belongs to Michigan, and participated in the Hangi.   After having a traditional Maori lunch we enjoyed an afternoon of kayaking and swimming, and then a bit of service to the Lodge with a Conservation project of digging and transplanting Rewa Rewa native trees from the bush to single pots to be planted elsewhere throughout the rainforest. 

While some were doing this the others were cleaning and harvesting flax to be used for weaving; we even learned about weaving itself and how the Maori use it.

While dinner was being competed we made our beds as they were all in one common room.
We enjoyed another traditional Maori meal and dessert and then finished off the night with a glow worm discovery walk in the rainforest – it’s an adventure to walk with 18 people into the pitch black rainforest to see the bioluminescent glowworms light up the path like constellations!

This was an experience where we  were able to see the integration of the ways in which ecology approaches nature and the ways in which a community approaches health, particularly in the framework of Te Whare Tapu Wha, the four cornerstones of Maori wellbeing.  It was a wonderful experience to spend an overnight in such a unique place, and we are grateful to our hosts, Lance and Rownia, for welcoming us!





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