8 October 2006
The hotel we have visited last week, is located on a busy main street of Auckland. When we left in the morning and waited at the side of the road for our valet parked car (I told you it was a fancy hotel!) … suddenly there was an impressive and weird silence in the street. All the cars were gone, like a kind of ‘traffic tide’. Along the street I saw a few people carrying flowers and from far away I heard the thin sound of a bagpipe …
“Woohoo, a parade!” we said, eager for a bit of sensation.
A long procession of young people in graduation costume was passing us. You know; those black cloaks with the square hats. And there were hundreds of them! Each school was preceded by a forerunner holding up a name sign. These were not only the graduates from the universities, but all students who had achieved something. I had never seen such a thing in the Netherlands.
At the end of the parade we heard shouting and the audience was on the middle of the street.
“Woohoo, a fight!” we said, eager for a bit of sensation.
I thought there had arisen a quarrel. However, there were 3 Maori boys who did a haka for their successful brother. A haka is no such thing as our Dutch folkloric wooden-shoe-dance. No … at first sight it looks like an aggressive war dance with a bold sounding text. A kind of primal rap. If a haka is ‘bursting out’ somewhere near by, it could scare the hell out of you and it’s truly intimidating. There are several kinds of haka and this was an expression of respect to their brother. You better not disturb them by (nervously) laughing, because it really means something serious here. And the most interesting thing to me is that it is not ‘organized’ to keep alive a certain culture on special days … no, it just belongs in modern life.
By the time young people finally have to face adulthood, they yearn for their first “OE”. That means ‘overseas experience’. To get across the border in New Zealand, you always have to use a airplane. In Europe a teenager can hop over to another country even by using a moped. It’s nothing special and usually these visits are not more than short breaks drown in booze.
But over here people don’t need to leave the country for sunny beaches or snowy Alps. It’s all here. So, the first earned cash of young people is mostly spent on visiting their first foreign country. If possible, at least for a few months (including work) and it’s really something that’s part of their growing up. It seems to me very well for the development of self-confidence and independence.
For example you can see a haka done by students at the funeral of their teacher.