29th – Uni, Marae & a Butchers Block

We woke up early enough for me to run over the hill and take some photos of the sun coming up onto the long flat quiet beach, only full of dog walkers at this time of the morning. We got ready and drove down the little way to Auckland, bypassed the city and out into the suburbs just west of the city. Once we got to the given address it was lovely to see Tui and Blackie again – these guys are directors of a big group of Moari people that travel Europe every year showing people their culture and performing amazing shows. My link had been last year when they had visited my academy in Bilbao – it’d been a fantastic tour and I’d gotten talking to them after as I was coming to NZ. It all went from there!

They drove us from their home to the university they both work for, and we got a lovely tour of the premises and tons of information about what they do there and how they had a part in helping start the whole thing with a view to free education for those that couldn’t afford the usual fees or didn’t have the necessary grades. The whole point is that it’s open to everyone and anyone.  And the whole place, which has a large arts department including training in the beautiful intricate Moari carvings, is full of the students works, which is cool to see and touch – the woodwork was amazing and just so interesting to listen to Tui interpreting the story being told through each piece.

After our look around their place of work we were taken up the the Orakei Domain – a very green hillside on which only members of Tuis family live. We were taken into the family marae which is stunning. The carvings and shapes and colours are incredible, really striking in black too. The views from the hill out over the water were gorgeous too. As we drove out of the area we popped in on her parents which was just so lovely to meet them. People are are just so open and welcoming, the most welcoming I’ve ever experienced.

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We realised it was lunchtime and so off we went to Mission Bay for a feast in a restaurant recommended by Tuis mama – La Fontaine. We ordered a butchers block, again advised, and Javi the mussels which were gigantic compared to the ones here in Europe! I think he only had about 10 in the pot but he couldn’t finish them on his own, they were that big. None for me thanks… After we stuffed ourselves and relaxed in this very lovely pub/restaurant, we were taken back to the house and our Joe. After lots of grateful hugs and goodbyes we left Tui and Blackie and made our way to St Helier’s Beach – just along the coast a bit basically from Mission Bay – and relaxed there with fruit juices, digesting the food and people watching.

That night we’d found a site to stop that was just outside of Auckland in a suburb in what sounded like a little park. It was a free one, only for self contained campervans, no tents and the few reviews advertised free loos and hot showers! We were definitely going to check this one out! When we arrived we found it to be a huge carpark next to a sports field and there were a good 7 or 8 campers there already. It was a really nice atmosphere as there was a team playing touch and a few people watching them, and some campers sitting out on their tables eating dinner. We parked and checked out the loos… those fancy talking ones that have doors that slide open and shut at the touch of a button, and everything is sensor activated so no touching anything which is great. You also get music playing while you go, what luxury! A sign inside even warns you you have 10 minutes and the door will open. And this for free… unbelievable. We were starving as usual so cooked up some dinner and watched the joggers come out for their evening run and the sun go down. My friend Paul (from brunch last week) let us know we could stay with him the next two nights as we were giving the campervan back the next day (another goodbye!) so thanks to him we didn’t have the burden of finding and paying for somewhere to stay. Not long went by before we made the bed and crawled into it. What a great day being shown around and learning so much history from Tui and Blackie. It’s just spiked my curiosity to research into it all more.

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