Published: May 29th 2007May 29th 2007
A meeting of two great warriors
I think he may have felt a little intimidated but I put him at ease, told him that I come in peace.
I am now officially recognised as a Chief by the Mitai Maori tribe.
Having covered a wide range of the extreme activities that Rotorua has to offer I decided to take in some culture. I was keen to learn more about the indigenous Maori culture, I had already visited some museums and read about Maori history but I wanted to see it for real so I decided to go and spend an evening with the Mitai, one of the largest Maori families in the area,
This is an organised cultural experience and I was one of a group of about 60 people there, our host Tui explained what the night had in store but said that in order to go and meet the Maori warriors we must have a chief to represent our group and speak on our behalf. Being as I had gone their on my own I thought I'd put myself up for the job.
Tui got me up in front of everyone and I was presented with a necklace carved from bone which signified me as the chief, I was told that when we were met by the tribe their chief would great me
with a Haka style dance thrusting his spear in an act of intimidation but this is just how they say hello, he would then throw down a stick which I must walk forward and pick up then retreat by walking backwards, I must not turn my back on him. It was important that I did what Tui told me otherwise I would offend them and everyone would be sent away and nobody would eat the meal that was being prepared for us.
If that wasn't enough I then had to learn and remember a Maori greeting and make a speech on behalf of 'my people' to show that we came in peace and friendship. It had to start with the words Tenna Koto Tenna Koto Tenna Koto, my name is Rob and I am the Chief of all my people...then I had to wing it from there.
Before this all took place my first responsibility as chief was to unveil the Hangi meal, this is a traditional Maori meal of meat and vegetables cooked in the ground and it was fantastic. We then went down to the river and watched some of the Maori warriors in a Waka
which is an ancient war canoe.
When we finally met the tribe, all went well i did what I was supposed to do, gave my speech everybody got to eat and no one was killed so it all turned out ok.
James now has to refer to me as Chief Rob when I am wearing the sacred necklace and if he doesn't do it then i don't respond.
There are more photos below