As part of our product knowledge training, Cris and I went to Tamaki Maori Village to see the cultural show. I’d already been to the Mitai show with Alex, so it was interesting to compare the two. These cultural shows, in addition to rafting and thermal parks, were popular activities for our guests.
The Tamaki shuttle bus picked us up and delivered us to their site. Upon arrival, I noted that there were four other buses full of tourists coming to the same show. It felt a bit like a cattle call as they herded us through the entrance and guided us to the sides of a large courtyard.
Each bus had elected a chief on the drive over, and it was time for them to go to work. The chiefs stood in the courtyard and the resident tribe (ie. the Tamaki performers) greeted us with a traditional welcome ceremony. This was a serious matter and the men couldn’t show any amusement or smile or they’d offend the tribe. The warrior placed a peace offering on the ground in front of the chiefs. If you picked up the offering, this meant your tribe accepted the peaceful invitation into their lands. If you ignored or destroyed it, this meant war. Luckily, our chieftains accepted the offering and we were all allowed into the Tamaki village.
Inside there were several traditional homes set up and guests could visit each one to learn more about the Maori culture. Topics of interest included the importance of moko (or tattoo), haka, poi balls and warfare training. Some demonstrations even allowed you to participate. I’m not sure how long we actually had to visit each presentation, but it was definitely too short to really get to them all.
Sooner than I’d like they told us to head toward the theater hall. This building was a traditional Maori meeting house with intricate carvings and high wooden beams. There was a semi-sheltered stage for the performers and rows of plastic garden chairs inside for the tourists.
Despite somewhat modest surroundings, the cultural show was amazing. The quality of singing and music were top-notch and definitely better than those at Mitai. The Tamaki version was a pure show, one song seamlessly transitioning to the next with only minor dialogue between. At Mitai, the flow was often disturbed by forced jokes and cultural demonstrations. I think Tamaki has it right to separate the educational aspects (if only they’d let us have more time there) from the entertainment part.
After a wonderful show, we went to the dining hall where a sumptuous buffet awaited us. The spread was big and lines were quick so no one really waited very long to get their feed on. Dinner consisted of lamb, fish and chicken accompanied by vegetables, green salad, kumara, potatoes, stuffing and gravy and a variety of desserts. It was fabulous and I went back for seconds on the stuffing.
On the way back home, we were “encouraged” to sing a song from our country to help pass the time. I ended up singing Hawaii’s state song, which I surprisingly still remembered from my school days. It was awkward singing a capella in front of people I didn’t know, but of course, that also helped. I figure I did a decent job despite a bit of wavering in the beginning. Cris, I might add, didn’t sing anything French, but our bus mates decided to give Frere Jacques a go in his place.