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Maori Bone Carving – Day 32
Thursday 28th April 2005
I have been very interested in the whole Maori culture, and each day I learn a little more, and it fascinates me. I had an idea to visit a bone-carving place today to try my hand at producing a nice necklace that will remind me of my time in New Zealand.
I spent the best part of the morning being very busy doing not a lot. I parked myself in front of the computer for a while and caught up on some e-mails. I thought it would be nice to let people know how I was getting on, and to keep in contact with friends as I said I would. Even though I am already one month in.
I had some lunch and began the afternoon that would turn out to be a stark contrast to the morning I had just experienced. This afternoon would be packed full of excitement.
I walked to the bone-carving workshop that wasn’t far from the hostel I was staying in, and found myself in a room with only one other person, (the girl who worked there). I was shown a catalogue of all the carvings I could make, as well as the cost of making them. There were so many designs that I had to take my time to look through and make my decision. The girl appeared to be a little impatient with me, but I guess she has to deal with this day in and day out with the tourists that trickle into the workshop.
The girl took me to my workbench and showed me how to use all the tools before disappearing out the back to find a suitable piece of beef bone for me to shape. It wasn’t long before I was given a brief explanation of how to do it, then left to get on with it. The girl was always about, and helped me at each step of the way, giving guidance to help me finish my masterpiece.
As I reached the end some 2 hours later, the final job was to use a cloth to smooth the bone out and to define the shape properly. It was at this point that the girl seemed most agitated, and I was about to find out why. I took my time on my carving, but got the impression I was being rushed to finish, and had to finish up and get out by the way the girl was treating me. She obviously wanted me out of the way, and after my finished carving was given string and a nice little bag, suddenly I realised why the girl wanted me out.
A group of around 30 young travellers poured into the building, each shouting as loud as they could, most acting as if they were in the school playground. It was a group from a Kiwi Tour Bus, and this girl had to somehow sort each and every one of them out. I felt sorry for her, but took my leave pronto. Outside the shop I unveiled my work of art and positioned it around my neck. I felt very proud and it looked actually quite well made. I said, “well done” to myself and walked off feeling a little more as though I was a part of New Zealand.
I’m not sure how Maori people – or any New Zealand inhabitants for that matter – feel about a foreign person wearing a bone carving. I’m not sure if it is seen as disrespectful, or improper, but I know I liked it. And in my own way, it was me saying how much I like this country, and how I should always like to remember it in a fond way. Little did I know at this time that I would still be wearing the necklace more than 5 years later, having never taken it off or undone the string.
In the evening I took the ferry across the bay to the beaches that I witnessed during the boat trip yesterday. I walked along to Lonely Bay and left my footprints on a deserted beach. I had to walk a hidden path that was extremely overgrown to reach this beach, but once there I was completely alone. I pondered coming back here tomorrow during the day for a bit of relaxation time on my own, but the amount of fresh footprints all about me suggested it is probably very busy during the day, so I will give that idea a miss.
I walked further to Cook Beach, and then to Shakespeare’s lookout, but the light was fading and I had to catch the ferry back before I was cut off. It is a lovely place here with many secluded spots to while away the time. Although it isn’t cut off from the land, it seems a little more inaccessible than most places, yet I felt it could be an idyllic place to live.
After the return ferry trip to familiar surroundings, the supermarket was my next destination, food being the intention. Pasta was bought by myself and later eaten by myself. I was quite tired from the long afternoon, but I had a good feeling about the day. The bone carving around my neck – although a little uncomfortable at this point – was the best part of the day by far. I thought briefly about the girl in the workshop and wondered if she had made it through the day, or possibly she was still there tidying up after the rowdy tourists. Either way I was glad to be in bed.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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