About 12 years ago, I visited New Zealand for the first time through the People to People Student Ambassador program. During this trip, we learned about Maori culture and stayed in a marae. I remember learning about their traditions and eating exceptional food made with the hangi. I also remember the unique artwork.
Today, Kate and I walked to the Otago Farmers Market to check things out. On the way back, Kate mentioned that the Otago Museum had an exhibit of wildlife photography.
I stopped in to check it out since the entry fee was in my price range (free). I enjoyed the photography. There was a cute picture of a boar's face covered with snow, another with three penguins waddling back to the ocean, and some more intense pictures of the human presence in nature (typically, rubbish in streams and rusty cars in fields).
Next, I meandered into the Tangata Whenua (People of the Land) gallery of Maori culture. It was fun to look at the intricate detail in the carvings. Heaven knows I lack the patience and artistic ability to create anything like that!
The sign next to the carving above read:
Ngati Porou carvers near Napier made these carvings in the late 1870s for the Hawkes Bay chief Karaitiana Takamoana. Chief Karaitiana planned to erect a whare-Runanga with them, but he died in 1879 and the incomplete carvings were abandoned. Dr. T. M. Hocken who had heard of the carvings secured their loan for the New Zealand Exhibition of 1889-90, where they were set up as a house. At the conclusion of this exhibition the carvings were purchased by Hocken and gifted to the Otago Museum.
I was also impressed with my camera's ability to capture the artwork sans flash. I have been using a Nikon Coolpix S8000 digital camera, but hadn't used the "museum" mode until now.
Unfortunately, lunch time was near and I had to depart (I get a little cranky when I'm hungry!). Since I know I can drop in at the museum just about any time, I'll be sure to go back to check out the other exhibits.