New Zealand Day 6

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Our sixth day in New Zealand was December 24th, Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas! To whoever is reading this post.

We started our day early, right around 6:00 AM watching the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. From back home in Seattle I’ve watched the sunset over the Pacific but until now I hadn’t gotten the chance to see a sunrise. Just like last night when we got to the hotel, the entire sky was pink in color.

Pacific sunrise

From our hotel room, we could see pinky sunlight light up the top of the mountains! But we didn’t realize that because we were in the Southern Hemisphere, we needed to drive northward to see the actual sunrise so we quickly hopped in our car and drove five minutes to the other side of the hills. This was our view then:

From South to North

New Zealand so far has been absolutely AMAZING, but what we did on this trip is a little different from what most people do- instead of going from the North Island to the South Island, we start from the South Island and today we made our journey to the North Island.

On the way there we saw dolphins swimming from the coast of Kaikoura!

(This photo was taken by my sister Jyoti)

We experienced both a change in scenery and a slight change in culture.

In terms of scenery, our current location, Wellington, is very different from what we’ve been used to since it’s more like a bigger city, complete with tall buildings, which we haven’t seen so far during our visit in NZ.

te papa

Our first stop in Wellington was Te Papa, the museum of Aotearoa, or New Zealand in the native Maori language. I was eager to visit this Museum because even though we’ve been in New Zealand for about a week now, we haven’t had much of a chance to learn about the native culture. It was surprising to me how little representation Maori culture seemed to have while we were on the South Island, but here we learned that the Maori language is actually a National language of New Zealand, along with English and NZ sign language.

Because we got there later in the day and we were already exhausted from the morning, we took a 60 minute walking tour of the museum. This tour gave me a greater appreciation of both Maori culture and New Zealand culture overall. It is not certain whether the Maori came to New Zealand from other Polynesian islands, or whether they were of the land itself, but evidence suggests that the Maori came to New Zealand from other islands and it is not known exactly why

When the Maori arrived here, the only native mammal species here were they bats, so the Maori began to eat the native birds because they needed a source of protein. However, when they arrived on the islands they brought rats with them, these rats affected the birds that were native to the island by competing with them for habitat space and food.

The English arrived in New Zealand in the 1800s, according to our tour guide, because they saw that due to industrialization in England there would eventually be a lack of jobs, and they had heard that New Zealand was a green and beautiful country so they wanted to come here.

In 1840, the English and the Maori established the treaty of Waitangi. This treaty awarded the right to govern the land and also recognized Maori ownership of the land and their properties. Though this treaty is still an important part of New Zealand’s history and government system today, our tour guide did point to some of its obvious flaws- it was written in 1840s technical language, and the Maori translation was not written by one of the Maori but by another Englishman, who didn’t translate it in a way that was understandable to the Maori, so even when the treaty was written in their language they were disadvantaged in this sense. Still, this treaty has been used by the Maori identify and criticize the English for historical (and present) violations of the treaty.

One of the other things that I liked about this museum is that the art here isn’t just historically significant, but also significant in the present day. For example, the tour guide told us that the museum also collects a large number of T Shirts, because the logos and statements on these are both significant today, and may be historically significant to future generations who may be able to derive whole other meanings from them.

The museum also had art done by modern artists. These were some of my favorites

The one on top is a collection of different paint strips.

The next one is about working with intention: every single one of those cylinders was made using the same color palette but different ways of weaving the colors together, and the artist wanted this to represent working intentionally to make something a specific way. There is a cylinder in the middle that is rainbow colored, and this one is extra special because the artist’s daughter asked him to make it that way.

The bottom one is the work of Tiffany Singh, a New Zealander of Indian, Fijian and Samoan descent. It is called Total Internal Reflection, because the colors in the room change based on the mood of the person in the room.

This last work isn’t specifically art, but was probably my favorite display in the museum. It represents the separation of earth and sky, and apparently the museum uses it to great important guests that come.

Once we finished up at the Museum we went to our last stop of the day: dinner! We tried out this Malaysian place called Pappa Rich. The food here was AMAZING- in terms of food so far in New Zealand I can’t complain!

I got this curry chicken with Sambal and Dhal. And we also shared this fried banana between the five of us

So far our trip has been pretty busy, so I’m grateful that we will be using Christmas Day to actually relax a little bit. Merry Christmas everyone!