Heading up North for Independence Day
After 2 days in Auckland, we decided to start our journey towards the North with a 1997 Honda van that we rented from Syd. After 100 km the battery broke and we had to return to Auckland.
But that was great! Syd had to replace our car and gave us an even older one, but bigger, with much more space for the sleeping area. Manual, but Toyota! Yes, we chose to live in a car for about 2 weeks. It is a lifestyle in New Zealand and the country has been built for this. There are camping areas everywhere and the roads are extremely beautiful, with scenic views every few kilometers and quite empty. It’s quite fun to find the showers each morning, but we just cannot get enough of it!
Our first stop was Keri-Keri, situated North-East. We visited the oldest house in New Zealand, having Bill as our guide. While telling us the story of the first English colonists that were situated just over the bay and downhill from the Ngaphui tribe chief Hongi Hika, he mentioned their cannibal rituals.
As we could not miss the opportunity, we asked him to tell us more stories about the cannibal maori tribes and the colonists. With a big smile on his face, he admitted that some of his fellow anthropology professors were quite sensitive about the subject, as were the young maoris living currently in NZ.
Now, I’ll have to tell you a few words about Bill – a 65 years old American born, ex Oxford professor of anthropology and history, now living in northern NZ with his wife (a Chinese political refugee) and working as a guide.
Bill answered our questions about cannibals with a short story. As he moved to Keri Keri he preferred to live modestly close to maori people, though everybody considered him to be a Canadian (as Americans are normally rich) having an Indian wife. One day he met an old maori who said: “Oh, you are Bill, the Canadian with an Indian wife!” and Bill replied that yes, he was Bill, but he was American and his wife was Chinese. “Oh! Chinese! When my grandma was still alive, she told me that Chinese people were much tastier than the English! They used to eat less salty! What about your wife?”
Our second stop was Waitangi on the 6th of February, NZ Independence day. We visited the treaty grounds where in 1840 the Independence Treaty was signed by 34 Maori leaders and acknowledged by the British king. It was an authentic experience, celebrating together with Maori people this moment of their history.
Heading north we reached Cape Reinga, the most Nordic point of NZ where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasmanian Sea come together. Luckily the Bear woke up at 5 and we managed to be there before sunrise. Beautiful!!