Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rugby, Marae and Zumba

Tramping through mud to watch our school's rugby team win!!

Last Saturday, Laura (in above photo) and I braved ridiculous amounts of mud to watch our school's rugby team play their final match. Slipping through the mud was completely worth it as our boys pulled out a victory against a school with some very big boys! Afterwards, the opposing team performed a "haka", the first one I've seen live in NZ! It was kind of scary, but mostly awesome.

I'll be seeing some more Maori culture this weekend as Rotary is running an orientation/Moari culture weekend at a local Marae. (A Marae is the meeting place/spiritual centre for Maori people). This weekend is for both inbounds and outbounds and should be a good laugh.

Yesterday Roger, Cathy (my host parents) and I went to their son Darrel's house to have dinner with his family. We had delicious Thai food. Unfortunately, Patricia, Darrel's wife, and I were going to a Zumba class afterwards and the Thai food did not agree with that! Despite a belly full of noodles, the class was SO much fun! Patricia and I didn't know what the heck we were doing, but we had a ball shimming to the (very loud) music! It was so nice of her to invite me along and I look forward to doing it again soon!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Learning a little history...

Massive Maori Canoe at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Last weekend wast spent north of Auckland in Kerikeri with Rotarian John and his wife Jose.  This was my first foray out of Auckland and I was very excited to see more of the country. We stayed with family friends of theirs Warrick and Penny who are also involved with Rotary.They own a kiwi (the fruit) orchard and until this past weekend, I don't think I could have told you what a kiwi tree looks like!

It was a fairly rainy weekend (surprise) but I was still able to do a lot of touristing. John and Jose took me to Waitangi where we took a ferry to Russel (NZ's first capital). Russel was settled by European whalers but is now a quaint little town with an amazing view of the ocean. We then returned to Waitangi to visit the Treaty Grounds where, you guessed it, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed!

The Treaty of Waitangi is essentially a peace treaty between the Maori and the British Crown giving the Maori ownership of their own land and giving them the same rights of British subjects. The grounds have been maintained beautifully and we enjoyed a lovely lunch there.
The stump of a Kauri tree used to make the above Canoe!

Obviously there is so much more to say about the Treaty Grounds, but if I give it all away, how will I entice you all to come visit for yourselves? This weekend I'm having the only other two female exchange students over to my house. Oriane is from Belgium and Solene is from France. It should be a lot of fun, even if we have to wake up for an 8:00am Rotary Meeting the next day!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The best way to a Kiwi's heart is through your imported maple syrup

Basically Martha Stewart

Yesterday before school I made some of my friends some delicious pancakes so they could eat maple syrup on something other than their fingers! In NZ real maple syrup is very expensive so the Kiwis resort to tragic substitutes like "Golden Syrup" and "Maple Flavoured Syrup".  Clearly my friends enjoyed my nation's pride quite a bit more!

Enjoying some 'grade A' tree sap

After breakfast, we took the ferry into town for a Travel and Tourism field trip. It was really fun and I finally got to go up the Sky Tower! (Like the CN tower, only smaller with a better view!) Also in the past week I got to meet the other inbound exchange students in my district; they all seem very lovely and their English is fantastic. I can't wait to get to know them better!

This weekend I'm heading up to Keri Keri in the Bay of Islands with Rotarian John and his wife Jose. I'm very excited as everyone has told me how beautiful the area is! You can look forward to seeing those photos in my next post!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tree Hugging

Planting a seedling for Rotary's Tree for Survival

On Tuesday, I spent the day getting dirty. Along with a class of 14 year old boys and Rotarians over 800 seedlings were planted for the Pakuranga Rotary Club project Trees for Survival. The initiative plants native trees in needy areas to try and rehabilitate NZ's nature, one tree at a time. Students at local schools grow the trees in class and then spend a day planting the trees in areas around Pakuranga. Although I got a little (lot) wet, it was a very memorable day. I was able to experience the beauty of the more rural NZ.

I had a lovely dinner with Rotarian Peter and his wife Sue on Wednesday. It was a very relaxed evening and we had some interesting discussions about exchange as they've hosted many students.  Sue's from Chicago and we had a fun time chatting about the North American winter! I must admit, walking in the rain is no fun, but I'll take it over dirty mid-February slush any day.

Meeting Gok Wan! ...kind of

Tonight I went with rebounder Chloe to catch of glimpse of fashion guru Gok Wan. Chloe's sister was helping to run the event, but even so, the queue was too long so instead we went to dinner with Chloe's parents and her other older sister. It was really lovely to be a part of their family dinner. As Chloe went to Germany with Rotary this past year, they know all the ins and outs of exchange. They were so inclusive and I really enjoyed myself. It was also really nice to have a conversation that wasn't about my exchange or Canada!