Maori Culture in New Zealand

Banks Peninsula near Christchurch, New Zealand (Bob Sessions photo)

You probably think it’s easy being a travel writer—the trips, the food, the adventures, the beautiful sights. But pity me, please, for having to write about New Zealand.

It’s been awful. I’ve combed through a thesaurus and found that there are only a small number of synonyms for “gorgeous.” I’ve sorted through more than a thousand pictures and have had to make agonizing decisions over which images I will feature online and with my articles. I’ve re-read my notes and realize that I could tell you about hundreds of extraordinary places and describe encounters with dozens of intriguing people—but I also realize that you, dear readers, have lives apart from this website and may not have the time to read thousands of words about my travels there.

So let me tell you about my time in New Zealand, focusing only on what impressed me the most. I’ll resist the urge to post hundreds of pictures. I’ll follow the lead of the New Zealand highway commission and only use the word “scenic” if something is so spectacular it made me gasp upon first seeing it.

I’ll be focusing primarily on Maori culture in New Zealand, which is entirely appropriate for  a website dedicated to Spiritual Travels because Maori culture is deeply spiritual. Even better, New Zealand’s Maori people are experiencing a renaissance that was exhilarating–and often moving–to experience.

Let me give you a single photograph to introduce this marvelous country (see below). To the Maori, New Zealand is Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud. When the Maori came to these islands more than eight centuries ago, they had traveled thousands of miles by canoe from tropical islands in Polynesia. And then they came upon sights like the one below. To this day, visitors are still awestruck by New Zealand. Including me.

New Zealand coast near Kaikoura (Bob Sessions photo)

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