In the spring of 2016, Henderson Productions took an extended do-it-yourself driving tour of New Zealand.   We’re excerpting portions of our trip in this blog including lessons from the Maori beginning with    

Te Puia is home to the “world famous Pohutu geyser” as well as a Maori village, Carving School. Weaving School and various mud pools.    We were delighted to be guided through with an authentic representative of the local tribe who patiently answered all sorts of questions from our group of about 16. 

He repeatedly informed us the Maori are Polynesians and there is ancestrally no difference.   The tribes all have references to their traditions and artifacts relate to reminding them of their original tribes in Samoa or Tahiti or Fiji or other Polynesian spaces. 

Traditional welcome to the village

The Maori are basically looking to avoid any fight by scaring off their foes.    The bugged eyes and extruded tongue and contortions are designed to create fear.   OK.   The carvings are reminders of stories they have been taught.   Our guide’s example was “If you saw a totem with a young girl, a red cape, a wolf looking over her shoulder you would think what story?”    Little red riding hood, right?    You already know the story.   You aren’t learning the story from the totem.   But if you have hundreds of stories you’ve learned, perhaps a reminder of the totem will instantly bring the story to your mind.  It’s the same for all their carvings – they are not teaching a new story but, rather, reminding the details.     (It made me think of the many, many Renaissance paintings of Biblical stories – especially for those with no written traditions.)

He escorted us through the various properties showing how flax is stripped and strengthened by rolling together, and through the carving and weaving schools.    Then we were off to see the geysers spurting as high as 90 feet but, on this occasion, around 50 or so.   Plenty of time to explore and then back to mud pits where I asked him about the therapeutic reports of the mud.

He paused a bit and said, “there is no traditional value to the mud at all in our history.    We have a different belief in the definition of ‘beauty’ and don’t worry about the cosmetic reports although I would suggest you could use salt or any other standard scrub for exfoliation.”   “We do have some proof of the poultice value of the mud for rheumatism or arthritis.   But those are white man’s illnesses which have only come to our people in the last couple of hundred years.”   

Morale to the story – don’t spend too much time on the mud treatments or packs seen everywhere in the shops. 

What’s your experience in New Zealand?   We’d love to hear your thoughts about lessons from the Maori and suggestions on Facebook at