First things first, I’ve got to brag up the AMAZING breakfast this morning. While today’s post isn’t focused on it, the Parisienne Crepe blew my taste buds away… Bacon (middle bacon to be specific), onions, eggs, & cheese all in one delicious buttery package? Yes please!!!

What I’m most thankful for today is very much unexpected. When Becky shared her idea for the day I was really only focused on the geothermal wonders we were going to see, especially the geyser. She’d mentioned seeing some Māori stuff, but I kind of put it in the back of my brain… kind of the filler in a busy vacation day. Yeah, it’d be cool, but more of something to pass time than something I’d really wanted to see. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

We went to Te Puia for a couple of hours and had an incredible experience. Our tour quickly moved into their carving school and my mind was blown. In front of us roughly 6 Māori men were carving elaborate wood statues using chisels and wooden hammers. Watching them work was amazing, their attention to detail so precise.

As we learned, they were students of a school that takes on four new students each year and teach them the ancient art of Māori wood carving. After they completed the school, 3-4 years later, they would go back to their home and teach others to help keep their culture alive. How awesome is that? Learning specifically with the end goal of teaching others.

While standing there I had a case of “the feels” come over me and I had to focus to not tear up. Many times over this vacation and other experiences I’ve either teared up or come close because I’ve felt like Dad is right there with me. When I was watching them carve I thought about how cool Dad thought this would be to see. I swear that somewhere in my heart I knew he was there with me, in just as much awe of their art as I was.

In addition to the carving the Māoris also demonstrated their weaving skills. We also watched a welcome ceremony in which they sang, shared dances and stories, and did the Haka. It was AWESOME!!! Watching them keep their traditions alive was inspiring, and seeing the boys’ eyes light up at the event was fantastic. Gavin even got a pic with a few members right afterwards.

After touring the entire site we went back to the woodcarving school and I spent a good 10 minutes or so watching the students work their art. It was so intriguing to see how they were quickly turning a piece of wood into a piece of art.

Everything else today was superb. We saw the ocean, walked the beach, had a unique dinner, and even saw California redwoods in New Zealand! That said, I’m most thankful for that experience of the Māori culture. Seeing the world through a slightly different perspective was an experience I’ll reflect on often and draw inspiration from. I’ve had the boys spending time journaling each day about what they did and what they are thankful for. Hearing Gavin say that he was thankful for the Māori culture was music to my ears, I’m glad he took something from this experience as well!

Thanks!!!

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