A visit to a Maori Marae is probably one of the top 5 must-do touristy things to do in New Zillund.

What is a Marae? It’s like a combination between a town hall and a church in traditional Maori culture. Literally Marae means “cleared, free of weeds, trees, etc.”

Traditional Maraes look like this one in a rural community near Port Waikato:

Back in Auckland I spent some time at a more modern Marae.

Even in the middle of the southern Auckland suburb of Point Chevalier it’s absolutely beautiful (especially on a sunny day like this) and I remember thinking “of course they shot LOTR in this country, where else?”

This little river passes behind the Te Mahurehure Marae, which is nestled in between a bunch of houses. In other words, this is in someone’s backyard:

Besides inviting us into their Marae (with former all Black Glen Osborne as our guide) their traditional dance group put on a few performances for us. This is a pretty cool Poi (the little balls the girls are swinging around) dance & traditional song.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK759Pv16hc?hl=en&fs=1&w=425&h=349]

As a sort of right of passage Maori men and women traditionally get a tattoo done on their face called a Moko. It symbolises who you are, what you do and what you’ve achieved. The mens’ version often cover the entire face, while for women it’s limited to the chin and lips (can you say EINA?).

For the performance however, most of the dancers’ Moko’s were just drawn on by a member of the group who happens to be a tattoo artist. He did one for me as well!

Definitely don’t have the guts to do the real thing though!

They also did a haka for us. It was rather intimidating up close, especially since there were only 8 of them doing it!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woN5t_64UYQ?hl=en&fs=1&w=425&h=349]

And I think that’s about enough Maori culture for today. Now just to wrap things up, here are some pics from the All Blacks press conference I attended today (Matt Pearce did the story on it – watch out for it on SS).

The Weather.

The Press.

The Dan.

And last, but certainly not least:

The Dawie.

(Our Camerman Dawie found this plus-size cup at the hotel’s coffee bar. Kodak moment, if ever I’ve had one!)