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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans


February 19, 2016

Prime opportunity to get new shoes

Jenna Lilly, A watch, Colgate University

The Global Ocean: New Zealand

Class S-264 in front of the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei marae.

Current position
Princes Wharf, Auckland

Weather
our first bright, cheerful sunny day—watch out for sunburns

Souls on Board

Kia ora! After 6 weeks onshore of learning about the Māori history and culture, today we finally were able to visit with the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei hapu (subtribe). We didn’t let our travel delay deter us from having an enjoyable morning, so before boarding the one bus in all of Auckland (thanks Ben and Jeff), we spent the morning lounging on the quarterdeck, playing games, and learning some new ASL signs.

When we arrived on the whenua (land), we were initially greeted by Pani and Hana, two extremely knowledgeable and amiable women. The Ngāti Whātua proceeded to welcome us into their whānau (family) through a pōwhiri ceremony. The purpose of the pōwhiri is to determine if the strangers are hostile or friendly; we, of course, were friendly, and the Ngāti Whātua were exceedingly hospitable and passionate about sharing their culture with us.

There are several steps to the pōwhiri: first the women of the group lined up in front of the men, and a female elder then called out in greeting to us, allowing us to walk across the marae, which is the courtyard-type area before the meeting house. Halfway across, we stopped to reflect about our ancestors and friends who have passed away, so that we remember who brought us to where we are today.

At the entrance of the meeting house, we removed our shoes, and inside the men sat in front of the women. Our host explained that the men and women switch places so that they share roles in the community, and no gender is above another. The pōwhiri continued with speeches and song responses from the Ngāti Whātua—Te Aroha had a deep, resounding singing and speaking voice that seemed to reach across centuries. Our group provided a speech by our chief anthropologist Jeff, and a lovely rendition of “Lean On Me” by the other 27 of us. Lastly was the hongi, when the barriers between people are broken down, and noses and foreheads are pressed together. We were officially part of the Ngāti Whātua whānau!

The overarching themes from our visit were clear: the environment and Papatuanuku (Mother Earth) must be preserved and taken care of for our grandchildren; it is a privilege to leave the Earth better than you found it; and community is important for preserving and sharing culture, in addition to finding friends who share the same beliefs or vision as you.

After fulfilling our cultural and intellectual requirement for the day, our afternoon and evening was filled with training on the ship, exploring Auckland’s {bumpin’} waterfront, and eating delicious fried Hungarian bread. Tomorrow we embark on our journey to the Bay of Islands, and set sail on the Bobby C for our first time on the New Zealand high seas! {Wahoo!}

- Jenna

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,The Global Ocean: New Zealand, • Topics: s264  port stops  new zealand  culture • (1) Comments
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Reactions

#1. Posted by Beth Dooley on February 22, 2016

What a beautiful description of this lovely event!  I felt as though I was there. We will now know how to greet you upon your return—rubbing noses and foreheads—in hopes that the goodness and understanding you are experience will rub off on us all back in the states.

Many thanks for your post!


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