Sunday, February 26, 2006

North Island and Poi with the Moari

We were able to meet with Bill Nathan the evening we arrived in Wellington (after a very stormy ferry ride.) Bill showed us several videos of traditional poi dancing and told us more about maori poi and the songs and dances that go with it. Apparently the most popular "traditional" songs are actually based on popular western tunes from last century. He says the more traditional compositions often didn't "stick." The Maori seem pretty hip to change.

Upon Bill's invitation, we got up at 5:30am the next morning to go see a "welcoming ceremony," organized to open a special park, begin the International Arts Festival, and to welcome those who have come from afar. The ceremony was quite fun, with much chanting, singing in Moari, and pressing of noses (a maori kiss). Afterwards we got to have a poi jam with Doras, Bill's wife. We were particularly impressed by the "short poi," which is quite rhythmical. The short poi are bounced off the forearms and hands, with complex rhythms. We're now trying to find other Maori to jam with, and performances to see.

More soon...

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