Posted by & filed under Travel Country: New Zealand.


During my research for the trip, I was trying to figure where I could stay during the Waitangi Day celebrations in Paihia. I asked Tamahou Temara, the Operations Manager of Toi Maori if he knew of anybody that I could stay with. He told me that some of the waka leaders would arrange for me to stay with the waka paddlers at Tent City, in Paihia. I’d met Tamahou once or twice before, through the article that I wrote about the Mana Maori exhibition, in Leiden, Netherlands.

Now staying with the waka crews sounded very interesting indeed! Most of them are big Maori guys, so it could mean that I’d be sharing a tent with the guys. I didn’t mind that at all. I didn’t know what the set up was though, whether I’d have to bring my own tent or sleeping bag, do the ladies share tents with the guys, is there a place where we can shower, is there food provided? So I emailed Tamahou about it and Joe Conrad, the guy who was organising everything, emailed me back.

With regards to sleeping bags, he said that they had bought sleeping bags for Koos Wabeke and his Dutch crew last year and that I could borrow one of those. “Koos won’t mind you sleeping in his” said Joe “but if you do, we have lots of cardboard and old newspapers available!” Food would be provided as there is a canteen that caters for all the paddlers.

Tent City

As for the sleeping arrangements, he said “Maoris like to share, especially the men. But if you wish to sleep with the women, that’s fine, on your own-that’s ok, with the men, that’s fine toooooooo, just don’t let the wives catch you!” He was joking of course. Furthermore, he added “If you snore, you will be sleeping alone. If you don’t and you hate snorers, then it’s best that you sleep on your own”. He said he would sort me out when I arrived. Staying at Tent City sounded like it could be fun!

I woke up before the alarm went off at 6.20am, packed the rucksack and headed off to catch the bus to Paihia. The bus I was on happened to be a tour bus. Intercity buses sometimes use tour buses in conjunction with Great Sights/Newman’s coaches, on their routes. This was one of them. So it meant that we got commentary all the way and stopped off at a few tourist attractions, such as Parry Kauri Park. There was a nine hundred year old kauri tree in this park. After a stop for morning tea, we got to Paihia at 11.30am and the last stop in Paihia was the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. I got off here and called Joe Conrad to see if I could get picked up.