New Zealand Maori sharing in the sacred act of hongi, exchanging the ha or breath of life.
The title is a bit of a mouthful, but let me explain.
I have been a ballroom dancer since I was about 12 years old, or about 15 years. It has been quite an experience being involved with this subculture of ballroom dance, which has made up a large portion of my life. During the summer of 2005 I had the opportunity to tour with the BYU Ballroom Dance Company to the South Pacific, during which we visited Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and Tahiti. My wife was also fortunate to join us on the trip. It was a singular experience which has burned a place in my memory.
Naturally, as part of these tours we were also able to learn much about the locations and people of the places we visited. One of the places that really struck me for its beauty and uniqueness was New Zealand. Going to New Zealand was like stepping into a different world. The indigenous people of New Zealand are known as the Maori, and the customs and traditions of these people were quite different than what we were accustomed to. Some of the things we experienced with the Maori were very spiritual in nature, which immediately caused me to ponder, and which I have had opportunity to think about for several years now. Specifically, the Maori ceremonial greeting tradition that they conducted with our BYU group as we arrived in New Zealand was one of the most significant experiences I had with the group. This rite or ceremony is known as the powhiri, and has insightful elements for Latter-day Saints to consider. [Read more…]