Sunday, 31 May 2009
In near freezing conditions - it snowed in parts of Marlborough today ! - a group of about 35 guests enjoyed a very warm welcome and wonderful hospitality at Omaka Marae this evening. After a traditional welcome onto the marae Kiley Nepia talked us through the ancestral house and the symbolism of its construction and decoration.
Kiley used Chris Fortune's haka stance to explain the formation of the front of the house (Face, arms, fingers and legs) and Carlos's 'push up' inside was used to explain the interior (spine and ribs).
While the depiction of food on the painted mural was obvious (see below), there were just as many references to food in the various carvings and tuku-tuku panels adorning the meeting house, showing not only the resources of the local people, but painting a picture of what the Wairau Valley looked like in the days before European settlement.
Being, and being seen to be good hosts, willing and able to provide for guests is an important aspect of Maori hospitality, and the carved and painted references to bountiful seafood, bird-life and full food-baskets was described by Kiley as a 'traditional tourism brochure' promoting the area's resources and its people as good hosts.
While the weather conditions prevented an in-ground hangi, the hangi food was as flavoursome and hearty as our guests's hospitality. As well as an enjoyable meal, the evening will be remembered by many for the insight into the Omaka Marae and Maori traditions of food and hospitality.
Thanks to Kiley, his family and the Omaka Marae for a wonderful evening.