Sunday, December 7, 2014

Maori life unfolds as travelers enjoy New Zealand's culture, scenery

Famed Kiwi director Lord Peter Jackson created Hobbiton, on which his award winning films were made.
A Maori tattoo was given to Cookie for her heroism in a stick game at a New Zealand village.

Tattoo for a day gives insight, even superficially, into rich life of ancient people, beliefs


CLICK HERE >> Lilian's Last Dance

WE ARE sharing a few highlights from the current adventure Down Under and in New Zealand. Yes, it's a book tour with readings and meetings with other writers, but it's a trip down the rabbit hole with visits to Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" wonderland and more.
Extraordinary moments have included two major bridge climbs -- Sydney Harbour and Auckland Harbour -- and an initiation into the rites of Maori life and celebration.
We've been singing and chanting and receiving "ta moko," the sacred tattoos with which the people tell their stories. While our "tats" are temporary, we are permanently affected by the sincerity and customs of the people.  A typical Maori greeting involves sticking out one's tongue -- boldly, with eyes bright and big.  Our favorite gesture, though, is the "farewell" one: noses and foreheads touch gently. Then you wish "kia ora kia ora" or be well, be well.
Cookie and Keller, victorious atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
Our most exciting visit of several to Maori villages was to Waimaramara near Napier, where we learned the significance of the facial markings, warring clubs and fur and feather cloaks. Facial tattoos tell status, ancestry and life lessons.
WHEN WE told our hosts, Denise and her cousin Robert, about our novel, "Lilian's Last Dance," they were excited because while honoring the ancient ways of their ancestors, they are connected to the modern world.  Find them on Facebook, YouTube and Tripadvisor. in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.

When I became an honorary Maori -- at a magical ceremony in the hills of Waimaramara.......I received ta moko.  My designs represent nature and grandmothers! Yes, I stuck out my tongue and I won a music stick competition involving faster-and-faster rhythms, passing the sticks left and right, changing hands in a circle of six people.  When one drops a stick, he must drop out of the circle.  I was the last standing in the circle!

COMING UP: More of our adventures, learning and occasional mishaps -- San Diego to Sydney and  New Zealand as we explore, learn and live Wednesdays, weekends and today, as the spirit of Maori life moves-- at


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