The New Zealand Diaries:Foxton Beach to Wellington-friends and culture all in one (03/01/16)

Well, New Zealand truly is a country of extremes. Just this morning I was walking barefoot in  the sea at Foxton Beach, dressed in a summer frock; and now I am sitting in the campervan and have just put on socks and made myself a hot chocolate while the rain is battering the camper outside and visibility is severely reduced. I am sure the views of Wellington would have been spectacular had I actually been able to see them……fog and pouring rain were not conducive to that, plus driving into Wellington and finding the Te Papa National Museum required my attention as well (it would have helped to check directions prior to driving into the city…..this may have saved me a 20 minute detour….maybe I am not a Meyers Brigg “J” after all ☺?)

Finding the museum was well worth it, however. What a wonderful, special place that gallery is. I only had time to do the forth floor “Social history-Maori, Pacific and other communities” but that was fascinating .It contains some wonderful Maori items such as a modern and more traditional meeting house (I have now finally seen one from the inside,  though cannot show photos as photography was forbidden, given the sacred nature of  those structures for the Maori), a beautifully carved store house, a fascinating display showing the movement of Maori tribes through New Zealand, an interesting overview of migration to NZ including asylum seekers and other Pacific communities…..and lots of socio-cultural,religious and traditional exhibits along the way.Apart from the meeting house and store house, the Maori musical instruments section was another favourite of mine…..especially as you could press buttons to hear what they sounded like. ….there are some that give out warning sounds, others that imitate bird song or the rustling of leaves……incredible.Finding out about the Waitangi Treaty, how it came about and some of the shakiness of its implementation was also very moving… short,  I think I could easily have spent 3-4 hours in Te Papa Museum.

However, the definite highlight of today was catching up with Andy and Debs in Foxton Beach and with Pete and Barbs in Paraparaumu.Both friends from Afghanistan days (Jalalabad and Kandahar respectively), Andy and Pete have both not changed one bit. Meeting up with them was such a reminder of the truth of the reflections in my blog on friendship a few weeks ago, which were part of my “The other side of aid-work” series (see below): those times together and sharing some strange circumstances just made for bonds which neither time, distance nor other differences can eliminate, and so it was very special seeing them both and meeting their respective other halves.  It was fantastic chatting to Andy and Debs in their fantastic camping set-up at Foxton Beach,patting their dog and hearing about Andy’s planned fishing excursion, as well as enjoying a massive fry-up with them. Seeing where Barbs and Pete live and catching up with them over a lovely cup of tea was also a wonderful privilege, especially given all Pete has been through.Today was a special reminder of how precious life is and what a blessing it is to hang out with someone whom we very nearly lost a few years back .  My heart is full of joy as a result.

I have been sitting here thinking that perhaps the rain will stop so I can wander to the showers. ..alas, it is  only  getting worse and the wind is now wobbling my van!  So I may make another hot chocolate instead and wait for a little longer. Tomorrow I cross over to the South Island and head down to Kaikoura. I do hope the weather gets better so I can enjoy the views during the ferry crossing and not get sea sick. The latter would not be good preparation for my dolphin -swimming excursion on the 5th ….(“Dolphins-take 2”: I would so like to avoid a repeat of my famous dolphin excursion on Australia’s Great Barrier reef in 2008 when others saw dolphins while my view was the inside of a toilet…..methinks a repeat of that is not needed.☺)

On that base note, I shall sign off and pop the kettle on ….praise God for campers,kettles, gas stoves-and,most importantly, for friendships and fresh encounters