To the west of Ohakune is a little visited place. It’s the Whanganui National Park. We hadn’t planned to visit there but a unique opportunity came our way. Our Airbnb hostess is the aunt of a Maori living in the park near the village of Jerusalem.
Up until last year the main road into the park was not paved. This discouraged tourists. Some Maori liked it that way. Now we could have an opportunity to go to a Maori community and have tea with a mom and her three month old baby while accompanied by a loving auntie. (Boy am I missing being a loving auntie while here.)
Up and down through the valleys and gorges we made our way. Dave, a bit susceptible to car sickness when not driving, was courageously hanging in there. At times I thought he looked a little green around the edges. That got me to thinking about that New Zealand favorite—green lipped mussels. Boy are they good. It’s a good thing I didn’t tell Dave about my wandering mind. I doubt seafood was something he wanted to think about as the car twisted left and right and dove up and down.
We visited the local church. Many missionaries came to this country and were successful in converting the Maoris to Catholicism. After the church and convent we drove through a sparsely inhabited village. The last 3 miles were up a dirt road to a sweet house perched on a hillside. The family gravesite was in a fenced off section of the back yard. Pigs rooted around down by the road and flowers and vegetables grew in the side yard.
We enjoyed tea, sandwiches, and watermelon on a shaded patio while talking about the Maori customs of land ownership, funerals, weddings, and adoptions. Maoris sometimes give their children to others in the community who are childless or who would like to raise another child. It seemed very foreign to me because sometimes the birth mother has daily contact with the child and sometimes there is no contact.
While our stay was brief, it turned out to be the perfect addition to a Maori Museum exhibit and a Maori Village visit and feast. Now we had the modern day Maori visit in a peaceful paradise.