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Where's Jonny? Care to dine with me? You would think that 11 years of daily food tasting for a living might put me off?......au contraire! Chomp away with me across 6 continents. Seduced like a bloodhound to the scent of good food, I anticipate the misty waft of steaming broths, the satisfying crunch of mudbugs and the vibrant aroma of freshly pulverised lemongrass. Buon appetito

Maoris, Moustaches and Manuka

NEW ZEALAND | Friday, 17 August 2007 | Views [1028]

We looked 50 feet into the volcanic crater, its grassy sides rippled like an ancient sunken souffle.  With 360 degree panoramas over Auckland, Mount Eden is the highest of 48 volcanoes in the city.

I was just positioning Maria for the, ¨crawling from a dangerous volcano crater shot,¨ when I read the sign.

¨DO NOT ENTER THE FRAGILE CRATER - SACRED SITE TO MAORIS¨

which incidentally, we respected.

Our time nearly over in New Zealand, I reflected upon the strong influence Maori culture and traditions have upon the population.  Highly regarded in the social fabric, the Maori language is taught in schools, there is a Maori TV channel, and now, even a Maori Google engine. We all know about the rugby.

Keeping traditions alive must have struck a cord here.  The signposts are often in Maori first, English second and Maoris have integrated well into society.  We saw Maori people not just on designated reserves but everywhere; in all cities and in different professions.  All this, in stark contrast to our time in Australia where Aborigines were rarely seen.

When we did see Aboriginal people, as we ventured north, to places such as Rockhampton and Townsville they were often seen wandering the streets, bottle in hand.  The contrast is undeniable.

We visited several museums in Australia including Sydney and the amount of space designated to Aboriginal culture is negligable at best.   Conversely, the quite excellent National museums of Auckland and the superb, ¨Te Papa¨ (our place)in Wellington hold a phenominal array of Maori cultural items including whole homes, boats and Pacific island ancestral roots.

In the Auckland museum we spent ages gazing at the intricate carvings and use of natural resources in their everyday goods.  Fish bones, teeth, feathers, woods, shells and natural fibres are commonplace.  Like the Aborigines, Maori people really understand the fragility of nature, its cycles and their dependability upon its resources.  These traditions should never die.

After viewing the Pacific island floor we headed towards a re-creation of 1860s Auckland where I chanced upon a very rare recepticle indeed.  Inside a Victorian shop facade lay a bone china cup with a 2 inch, ¨bridge¨ across the drinking surface.  Slightly concave, it was designed to hold ones ¨tache¨ whilst one imbibed tea.  I want one. (the cup, not the tache)

As we slowly walked down the steep banks of Mount Eden we noticed a quality fishmongers and I suggested we have fat, manuka smoked fishcakes for lunch.  One was easily large enough for a person and they were packed with firm Salmon and Trevelly.   

Back at the hostel we ate them with wilted spinach, a drizzle of oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.  (which did the usual trick of P**ing off other guests)  The smoke was deep but not overpowering, not unlike an oak smoke.  The fish to potato ratio was perfect with only a light amount of cubed tuber within.  Simply amazing fishcakes.

So, the end of our Australasian tour.  I´m off to Chile and Maria is off to LA.  We wished we´d met some Maori people but then realise that we actually did........every day.  

Tags: Culture

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