We drove to Wai –O – Tapu thermal reserve, near Rotoroa for the 10.15 eruption of the Lady Knox Glacier. It is helped along re timing with a surfactant to break the surface temperature. Before she blows, there is a rumbling noise a bit like when you know that the vindaloo and 12 pints of beer have taken effect. All of a sudden off she blows. A stream of water went 20 m into the air. The heat from the warm water could be felt off it, due to the fact that it was a cold rainy day.
We then walked around the rest of the park, accompanied by the constant smell of sulphur – that beer again, to see lakes of showering water, holes in the crust and caves, where the earth had cracked and re-formed. Nothing prepares you for the different colours from the chemical reactions, much is grey white, but there’s yellow from sulphur, orangey brown from iron, purple from manganese, followed by a bright green lake at the end.
From there to a very wet Rotoroa, to see the Hidden Village. In the early 70’s, Blue Peter used to go off on a holiday so that children who couldn’t afford one could see the world. Of course then, we all shot off to New Zealand for our week by the sea. They told the story of the eruption that destroyed the white and pink terraces, and buried a village. I hoped one day to visit it, but when I did, it was a little disappointing, as it felt a little ‘staged’, rather than the dig site I had expected.
In the evening, we went to Tamaki Maori Village for a Hangi Meal and concert, and to experience and try some of the Maori skills. We were greeted as all the teams were before the games in the World Cup, with a Maori Challenge. It is about checking whether friend or foe is visiting. Once it was established that we were friends, we were invited into the village by a maori woman singing a welcome song. We saw and tried a variety of Maori skills, I was particularly good with the drumsticks, all geared to building battle skills, especially strong thighs and wrists – maybe that’s why the All Blacks can run quick and spin it wide. A hangi is a meal cooked in the ground, either by boiling or over hot rocks with Manuka or Tea Tree logs to keep them hot. This gives the food a distinctive flavour, but very healthy. They sang to us and danced traditional dances including the HAKA. The evening ended with the song Hinera mae – Now is the Hour. A Maori son from World War 1, which was embraced by the ANZACs and British troups given English words. It reminded me of a working man’s club my grandparents used to take us to, whilst my granddad tried valiantly to correct my two left feet. The song often ended the evening.
Maori are proud of their company that fought in the War, as they see it for freedom abroad and at home. We would be well advised to remember that ourselves with our own troops.