Rarotonga - What a Blast!
It's been 6 weeks since we left for our trip to Rarotonga - a beautiful island in the South Pacific. This trip was a once in a life-time learning experience for me and my school mates, and everything we did was filled with fun and laughter. What was really special for me was the snorkelling in the lagoon with Captain Tama's Lagoon cruizes. That was amazing. Everyone got to swim with the coral fish and get a closer look at some really weird and beautiful fish species. Their kina are weird though. Their spines are longer and their shells, smaller. Sharing an umu-kai on Motu Island was nice too. The weather wasn't the best, but the show the Captains put on was really funny. We were laughing the whole time at what one of the Captains was getting some of the tourists to do. Did you know there are over 375 different styles for tying a pareu (that's a wrap-around type sheet) that the Cook Islanders wear when it gets really hot. Some of the styles looked like a model could wear them on a cat-walk. Learning about The Tree of Life, or the coconut tree, was very interesting. The Rarotongan people use every part of the tree. They do not waste anything from it. The coconut tree is used as medicine, clothing, shelter, food, and lots of other things too. Our big boys learnt how to dehusk, and cream the coconut flesh and oil. The oil is different to the cream, so the Rarotongans use it in different ways.
We also visited Nikao Maori School who hosted us for two days. That was a real experience. As New Zealand kids we sometimes think we don't have many opportunities in our classrooms, but if you saw schools over there you would think we were very, very lucky. Nikao Maori School has a roll of just over 100 students. They welcomed us with a turou which is like our powhiri. It was really special for us to get a turou. The students from their school lead the turou, and as we came through the school gates the Nikao tamariki put 'ei over our heads. This is their way of thanking us. An 'ei is a flower garland, and they use the tiare as their flower. Later we shared some waiata and korero together, and then we were invited to share an umu-kai with them. This was delicious. Eating and sharing together was again very special because they then gave us our own pareu and shell necklaces to keep. Some of their kai is strange to eat, but most of it is tino reka.
For me the highlight of the trip was sharing the learning about the Rarotongan culture, language, and meeting its people, with my whanau. We will always remember this trip and how it has opened my eyes to how other cultures live in this world. I hope you get the same opportunity as what I have had.