Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hanmer Springs and Maori Workshops

A while ago I finally watched all of The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time since being in New Zealand. It was fun to see some of the scenery I've been to, and the mountains of course are gorgeous as usual.

I have been going to a few Māori workshops to improve my awareness and understanding of the bicultural aspect of New Zealand. I wish these were mandatory for everyone, both locals and visitors. I'm sure I now know more about some of nuances of the culture than New Zealanders. And -- did you know -- New Zealand had a Declaration of Independence!!! I can't believe it took two years for me to find this out. Before the famous Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, a number of Māori chiefs from the North Island signed a declaration calling themselves The United Tribes of New Zealand. I was so impressed. It also changes how you see the Treaty, and how unfortunate that Britain exploited their power as a colonizer. A video we watched at one of the workshops reminded us that the translator of the Treaty from English to Māori deliberately changed one of the words because he knew the Māori chiefs would not sign if he used the word for sovereignty. It reiterates the power of language.

My tutoring has been going pretty well. I think the second time around you get the rhythm of how much you can cover in a session and which activities work better. I have also had a few occasions to teach, and that has been a stressful but good experience. Unfortunately, I've come to the realization that I've been spending too much helping others with various things or trying to improve the state of things that I haven't been able to get my own stuff done, so I'm having to make the difficult decision to be more selfish with my time so that I can get my thesis done. After the semester is over, I really have to dedicate myself to writing. We'll see how successful I am at saying no!

We finally went to Hanmer Springs for a short vacation, which is a kind of resort with a bunch of hot pools that is about 90 minutes north of Christchurch, so it's considered a weekend getaway. There were quite a few people there, but winter is not exactly a great time to go, because as soon as one gets out of the water, the wind is freezing. The second day, it was raining so we had to leave our towels all the way at the entrance. I would much prefer to be dry and warm. And let's just say that the super hot pools can make your blood pressure drop so you have to be careful upon coming out for your body to readjust... The town is fairly small and within view of the mountains, which were beautiful in their snow-covered glory.
stock photo of the pools - I didn't want to worry about my camera getting wet