New Zealand: Diving into the Culture

Submitted by Mia DeRicco on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Australia and New Zealand sponsored by the Department of Hospitality Business Management…

A trip to Te Puia, a traditional Maori village, was where I felt most immersed into the culture of New Zealand! From the start, we were greeted with the Maori language and wooden carved sculptures of each of the gods, such as the God of the Wind or the God of the Sea. As we walked further into the village, we approached a geyser, which was absolutely stunning. I have never seen a hot spring before, so watching as water and steam shot up into the air out of the geyser was exciting. We also came across mud baths, which reminded me of the time I went in a mud bath in St. Lucia a few years ago and covered my whole body in the hot mud from the baths.

As it got closer to the time for us to enjoy a Hangi dinner, a ceremonial war dance was performed by the Maori people. The women danced with rope as the men handled swords. It was interesting to me how many facial expressions the Maori people use during the war dance. The men would end with sticking their tongue out in an aggressive way, which I feel is used to intimidate others and show their power. The Hangi dinner was prepared underground and witnessing them take it out was incredible. Who would ever think they’d be eating food prepared underground! This experience is one I will never forget as it gave me a better understanding of the original settlers of New Zealand, the Maori people.

Maori Wooden Carved Sculpture
Geyser in the Maori Village shooting up steam and water
Hangi food being taken out from underground
Celebratory War Dance by the Maori Village People