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The Many Faces of the Maori

Twenty-first century New Zealand is a lively blend of cultures, combining a European sensibility with the indomitable spirit of the indigenous Maori people. Over the course of the past week we have had a crash course in Maoritanga by visiting some of the most vibrant and significant Maori locations on the North Island. We started…

Scrum at One In the Smelly Room

My views of rugby may conflict a little with New Zealanders since the All Blacks aren’t my favorite team (I prefer the Wales Brains and the South Africa Springboks) but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good game of New Zealand provincial rugby…. The next game would be the All Blacks (who dominate almost every game and were on a 16 game winning streak) versus the South African Springboks (a team who has been in a slump for quite some time and is usually blow out by the All Blacks)…. The Boks drove down the field driving farther and farther until the Blacks finally got in and stopped them, for what seemed like an eternity neither side moved, then a Blacks player in a fit of anger shoved a Bok to the side and stepped offsides, (to which the man next to us shouted “YOU IDIOT!”… The hopes of the Boks rested on their kicker, Praetoreous who despite being good during the offensive runs had been having a so-so kicking day, if he could score here then the Boks would have a one point lead over the Blacks and would win.

“What kind of coins do you have?”

Ever since my dad brought back coins back from his work travels, I wanted coins from everywhere. I loved the designs and the colors (compared to 1 color american coins), and the holes…. When we arrived in New Zealand, I found a 20 cent coin by the McDonald’s…. In one well I found a 5 cent coin, later to find out that this year they took away 5 cent coins and changed the way the 50 cent looked.

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Swimming with the Dolphins

He brought a large moving truck and unloaded a house full of power tools, electronic toys, and many other things which I either failed to notice or didn’t care to remember…. I have surfed with them, pet them at marine parks, and seen them from afar during ocean swims, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I got to talk to and play with wild dolphins…. I swam for 20-30 minutes before the dolphins tired of my very few dolphin sounds and the hypothermia started setting in. The crew called me and the one other swimmer, a nice Englishman, back to the deck. I headed into the warmer confines of the boat to savor the memories of the swim and to encourage the boys to jump in next time even if it is freezing.Be sure to check in over the next few days to see my underwater video of the dolphins.

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Kings of the Forest

We parted the curtains in the back of the campervan to see what nature had in store for us. We weren’t sure what to expect from the countryside since we pulled into the RV park after dark…. We camped in Matekohe because we wanted to visit the Kauri Museum, a facility dedicated to documenting the European settlement of the Northland through the history of the Kauri tree, the second largest in the world…. The deforestation of the past two centuries was so bad that one protected forest is all that remains in New Zealand, and we’ll be sure to pass through it on our way back down to Auckland.Our tour through the museum highlighted the dynamic that will most certainly characterize our future visits…. Someday we’ll sign him up for Jeopardy since he never seems to lose a fact once he’s entered it into his databank.Thankfully the staff were gracious and undaunted by the Clampetts arrival.

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College is Codswollop, or Welcome to New Zealand!

I don’t know why it is that no matter how long I have to prepare for something I always end up cramming at the last minute to git ‘er done. After Tom pulled two almost-all nighters performing test packs (see the picture of the gear laid out in Grandma’s family room below), I revisited my college days and passed up on sleep Saturday night to make the final preparations for boarding our first flight on Sunday morning.