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A day at the Shakespear Lodge

An English and Maori welcome at the Auckland Airport

Woken up early. Today we had another full day of activities. We had our morning meal. All meals are known as Kai, time for a feed, as they say. After breakfast we had a fun competition known as a publess quiz. Typically quizzes of those type take place in pubs.  Our team, the heffalumps ( a word borrowed from a news article about a NZ woman being attacked by some local hooligans trespassing on her property.) came in 2nd place after all the trivia, which ranged from general knowledge of NZ, to safety procedures, to sex and drugs. My team consisted of Taylor, Devin, Mike, and myself.  The second portion of our competition was a ROGAINE. Every time I heard that word I thought of male pattern baldness, but apparently it stands for Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Exercise. So our task was to search the entire Shakespear Regional Park for Numbered posts labeled with different symbols, record those symbols and return to the lodge before an hour had passed. We sprinted up and down the hills, hopping over fences and bounding over streams, running along the beach, and weaving in and out of trees, searching for the small posts. Eventually we found all of them, and weezing, huffing and puffing, we charged up the hill to the lodge, finishing with 20 minutes to spare. All the teams eventually made it back. After they deliberated, it turned out that we came in second overall, not a terrible result. Our next activity, after more kai, of course, was sea kayaking! They took us down to the beach, split us up into two groups, about six boats to a group. Mike, our group leader, led us through the basics, forward, backward, side to side, and we paddled along the beach over to a beautiful rock wall along a ridge that jutted out over the sea. By that wall, the two groups reconvened and we engaged in a chaotic and extremely entertaining game of kayak water polo. Back and forth the ball went, over and around many people’s outstretched paddles. Eventually our team emerged victorious, winning 3-2! We paddled back to the beach, joints aching, and shoes soaking wet. We headed back up the lodge, and I took a hot shower to wash the salt water off. We met up again for more kai (Kiwis eat a lot throughout the day, a style of eating that I am now rather fond of. We’ve eaten delicious food so far: pastries (delicious muffins filled with chocolate or caramel), fresh fruit, roasted vegetables, lamb, fresh bread… After kai, we were given the option of doing a couple activities: archery, mountain biking, and rock climbing. I was still feeling pretty tired after kayaking, so I went with archery. We went over posture, positioning, following through our shot, and aiming your shot. After several rounds of practice, we played Archery Risk. We had to shoot at picture of different continents hung on the wall, the goal being to “take over” all seven continents by the time the game was done.

After archery, we had dinner, and then we moved on to our briefing before our visit to the Maori settlement, known as Te Hana. A man named Tom, a member of the settlement, introduced and ran through many customs, rituals, and procedures involved with visiting the settlement. The main rituals we learned about was the introduction of our group to the Maori that was necessary before we would be able to enter the main house of the settlement. The introduction involves stating not only your name, but a river, mountain, and lake/sea that you relate or “belong” to. Learning about this showed me something that I had seen before when I visited a Navajo reservation in New Mexico and heard the Navajo speak. This was a deep and profound connection to nature that helped shape the Maori’s individual and collective identity. I wrote the La Salle Mountains, where I backpacked on Outward Bound, my first backpacking experience, the Wissahickon River, the river in the woods right next to my house that I’ve spent a lot of time at throughout my life, and the Red Sea, one of my favorite places in Israel to visit. We designated two people, Taylor and Asher, as our two chieftain, the two people who would introduce our group to Maori. After their introduction, we would stand behind them and sing two Maori songs, a sign of support, indicating that we approve of our chieftains leadership.

Every now and then I get gentle waves of homesickness, for my family, for my friends, for my living room couch that I could just lie on, watching tv, without a care in the world. I feel awkward, being in the period of getting to know people, I’d rather skip that part and move on to feeling at home. Or rather, I wish I was living in New Zealand with all my friends. I know that this homesickness is a symptom of culture shock, so I don’t read too much into it. The people on my program are really nice though, and spending time with them has been a blast so far! I’m excited for another day, and more adventures…

View of the Shakespear Lodge from a lookout point

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