“New Zealand – Aotearoa – Land of the Long White Cloud – Gods Own – Pride of the Pacific”
Stunningly diverse. Naturally Beautiful. Jagged Mountains, rolling pastures, raging rivers, smoldering volcanos, sprawling beaches, pristine lakes and some of the most humble people on the planet.
I wanted to take my family to the place I grew up; to experience life as I remembered it. Growing up barefoot. I wanted to fall in love with my homeland all over again and have my family feel that connection. My Whanau or “family” reside in New Zealand. But Whanau includes physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions. It is through Whanau that values, history and traditions from ancestors are adapted for our contemporary world.
Together, my family and I traveled to immerse ourselves in Maori and Polynesian tradition. To learn of my country with bi-cultural, colonial and rural views.
We experienced the Maori culture by being welcome onto local Marae by Karanga, or a call to welcome, as part of a traditional Powhiri ceremony. Maori are the Tangata Whenua, the indigenous people of New Zealand, coming more than 1000 years ago from the mythical Polynesian homeland. Watching flax weaving demonstrations and learning about fascinating myths and legends like Maui’s hook. We listened to speeches in Maori and sang in Maori while sitting inside intricately carved meeting houses.
We explored New Zealand seashores. Sun soaked sand dunes with Toi Toi growth and weathered driftwood. Rock pools and mudflats. The kids saw crabs, sea star, Kina (sea eggs), anemones, shellfish, sand-hoppers and shrimp. They felt volcanic sand between their toes and smelt the thirsty salt air as it wafted from the crests of waves of the Pacific.
We visited lush botanical gardens with beautiful Kowhai and Red Hot Poker. Discovered bush trails and forest floor critters. Walked around vast lakes with long fin eels and fern gardens.
We trekked across green pastures with curious dalmation cows (as my kids called them), sniffing mountain air around us and moss covered walking trails with Tui birdsong competing with the bubbling of mountain spring water.
I enjoyed taking my family to my homeland so they could see the laid back and friendly country I grew up in. The embrace of a community-focused attitude. A warm and courteous culture. It has been important to introduce my family to this view on the world. The New Zealand way of life. To teach them no matter how busy life becomes, you take the time to explore the wonders of your own doorstep. To experience the world around you and never forget where you came from.
And, it must be said, Tea Collection came along for the ride. Providing comfortable, durable options and prints as vibrant as my children. Encouraging compliments for the best dressed Little Citizens of the World.