We have four ports to visit in New Zealand. The first of these is Auckland. On this tour, the tour guide was also the bus driver, so as we traveled down the left side of the road, we had commentary about the driving skills of the other drivers as well as the points of interest of the city. This is a harbor city with many boats to be seen. The cityscape is impressive with the Sky Tower above everything. A revolving restaurant is located on the top of the tower that we are told provides a wonderful view of the city and harbor.
After the city tour, we ended up at the War Memorial Museum. Half of this museum houses great exhibits featuring Polynesian carving and cultural information. My favorite exhibit was a Hotunui, an ancestral meeting house of the Ngāti Maru people. In Māori culture, these houses are representations of ancestors and held in the highest regard. We were asked to remove our shoes before entering.
The walls were adorned with carvings. The eyes were given life with iridescent abalone shells. Reeds were woven to provide insulation and decorative covering between the carvings. The overall effect was impressive.
Te Toki ā Tāpiri, the last great war canoe used in battle was carved from a single totara tree and displayed proudly.
Our guides told us about the weapons and materials used for weapons, tools, and boats. A part of the culture seen in the carvings and dances is to stick out the “tongue and look as intimidating as possible. One guide demonstrated his “look” that he worked on quite a lot.
These guides were also the “cast” of the cultural show we saw after the museum tour. The show had chants and songs as well as stories of the first Māori people who landed in New Zealand. The show finished with the Haka, a traditional war dance that has become more known because of the New Zealand rugby team who have done the Haka dance before matches.
The other half of the War Memorial museum involves the wars of New Zealand and the part that New Zealand played in the World Wars. On display are a British Spitfire and a Japanese Zero. A large memorial for New Zealanders killed in the World Wars holds a place of importance in the museum.