The award -winning (the Best Cultural Activity in NZ 2009 2010) Maori Tours, Kaikoura, use family history to provide boutique tours which trace tribal history and explore belief’s about the medicinal properties of native plants. On the Kaikoura peninsula, overlooking the whale-feeding grounds, we’re told there are some 40 tribes in New Zealand, each with a slightly different language, traditions, and legends.
‘Each marae has its own kawa and you will always be told what to do so don’t worry about going onto a marae’ says Maurice Manawatu – of Ngati Kuri hapu, Ngai Tahu iwi, descendants of Paikea, the whale rider.
‘We are people-people’ his wife Heather tells me when we have afternoon tea at their home before going to the Puhi Puhi Valley to learn to identify plants and their properties. As well as cures for toothache or dysentery, I learn that if I start to bald, the juice from the rimu is good for hair growth.
Maurice also points out the silver fern punga, ‘have you heard how this became a national icon?’ Holding the fern-like leaf – green on top and silver underneath – he continues. ‘In pre-European times, as Maori travelled from place to place at night, especially during times of war, the first warrior would bend a piece of the punga over so the silver showed in the moonlight for others to follow. Then as the last man came through he would turn it back so enemies would not know where they were going. When the first national rugby team was going to the UK, Maori suggested that it would be a great emblem as they too were warriors – and that’s how it started and now nearly all our sports teams wear the silver fern.’
This is a must do tour while in New Zealand.