Living as a Maori in New Zealand: tribal culture as a life's work


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Disclosure & Image Rights:  Image material was created with a camera provided free of charge by our sponsor Olympus, which we checked as part of the test until it was unusable. The Dutch tourism company TravelEssence took over our costs for flights, domestic flights and food for a research trip to New Zealand.

Karen and Dave were originally designers and were one of the first in New Zealand to have a computer. Meanwhile, both are in the tourism business, offering tours to the 8. Wonders of the World and the geothermal village of Whakarewarewa - and have dedicated themselves to preserving the tribal culture of the Ngati Wahiao. occupations pictures

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Maori international

Karen is coming back from a tourism conference for the indigenous people in the Pacific. Maori culture is also very present in her life: the house is modeled on a Maori congregation hall. In the living room there is a huge picture of Karen's great-grandmother.

This is only one part of their traditions: Dave is a new generation in the fifth generation with Irish roots. Kate is not only Maori, but also has Scottish and Irish ancestors. The joint daughter lives in Dubai and is married to an Egyptian of Scottish descent.

Appel computers more expensive than the whole house

In the past, Karen and Dave worked as designers. They owned as one of the first Company in New Zealand an Apple :. "The house we bought back then cost $ 20.000, all of the office equipment with computers and laser printers cost over $ 40.000 - you have to think about it," laughs Karen.

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But then Karen wanted to take part in the life of her tribe and support her - even if her lifestyle was now very different from that of her family. Because Kate's family lives very modestly in Wahkawarea, a geothermal village on the town boundary to Roturura, where the children in the river still dive for coins when they are thrown in.

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Hazardous sources of energy

The hot sulfur springs serve the Maori as an energy source, for example, cooking in holes on the floor. But they are also dangerous: Suddenly, a small geyser or volcano can erupt suddenly under houses. And the sulfur destroys the computers. "We had to replace the cables once a year."

“Even if you live very differently, the family remains important and you love them.” says Karen. And adds, “A Maori always comes back to help his tribe. You have to know who you are, only that gives you self-confidence! ”

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Borrowed luxury

Four years ago friends gave them the house at Lake Tarawera. "They wanted our tribe to be able to gain a foothold in the traditional area again." However, living in a house that is practically only borrowed does not bother Karen: "The Maori don't own the land they live on anyway, the land eliminates us," she explains.

However, the two must maintain their Pounamu Lodge on their own. Therefore, they rent the basement to tourists "This makes the house self-sufficient." Kate also heads Whakarewarewa's tourism activities as Director of Tourism.

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Wonder of the world and water taxi

Kate offers guided tours on Tarawera Lake, including the Pink and White Terraces, featured on the 19. Centuries as 8. Wgiao were world famous and made the Ngati Wahiao very famous: even from Europe came at that time visitors, although New Zealand was then still very difficult to reach.

A volcanic eruption on Mount Tarawera caused the terraces to sink into the lake in 1886. Parts of them were recently rediscovered during sonar measurements 60 meters deep in the lake. That was “very exciting”, as Karen says.

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Looking to the future

Dave, who likes fly fishing and has a boat license, operates a water taxi at Tarawera Lake. The boat bought the two 2011. In addition, Dave also occasionally works as a designer - he makes exposures, makes job graphics or designs playgrounds.

The two not only want to benefit from it themselves, but also to support the tribe: “We are looking for small business ideas in tourism so that the tribe can continue to live here.

One idea is the water taxi: Dave therefore teaches members of the tribe how to ride a boat. “A boat driving license requires at least 300 hours of boating. The idea is that the tribe will eventually take over the business, ”Karen looks to the future.

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  1. Uta Lampl

    Very exciting story!

  2. Kathy

    Great story, but: How to become successful? Is not it much more important what personal success means?

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