The Last Full Week
December 10, 2019
It’s hard to imagine that this is my last week at Takapuna Normal Intermediate School; the time has flown by so quickly, and I feel like each day goes by faster and faster as Friday approaches. Right now I am just trying to take everything as it comes, enjoying conversations with staff and students, hopping in for games with the kids during P.E., and spend meaningful time with James, Rosie, and Bryn. I am very settled into the routine of the day, as well as the summer weather, and I have a hard time picturing what my days will be like once I am home.
That being said, however, the school day remains plenty busy, and there is still enough time left for adventures. The students in Rimu had all of their major projects due last Friday, which included their novel analysis assignments and putting together their Secret Santa gifts, comprised of a poem, a bookmark, a Christmas card, a small candy treat, and a larger gift to be put in the class basket. It was quite the ordeal, but the kids put their hearts into it, and by Friday we all threw ourselves across the finish line and celebrated with a pot-luck style lunch, award giving, and a gift exchange. It was very rewarding to see it all come together, and I can now say that I’ve eaten many of New Zealand’s major food specialties: L&P, pavlov, and sausage rolls.
The highlight of my past week started with a spur of the moment, Thursday night decision to book an Airbnb in the Bay of Islands for the weekend. The Bay of Islands, or more specially, Paihia, is located about three hours north of Auckland, and is right on the water overlooking many smaller islands. On Friday after school, we loaded up the car, bought a dozen delicious Krispy Kreme donuts, and drove into the rain, quietly playing car games and listening to the radio while Bryn slept in the back seat. Our accommodations were small and cozy, placing us right in the middle of all the attractions we had come to see. On Saturday morning I woke up early to see the sunrise, which unfortunately was covered by clouds, but by 9:00 it was beautiful, sunny, and warm while we ate our breakfast. We spent the first half of the day at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the place where Maori and the British first began signing documentation that bound the land to English rule and protection. We first walked through the museum, which was very informative, well put together, and told the story of both countries, and then we went on a guided tour of the area, seeing the original ceremonial canoe, the house of James Bubsy of England, who translated the document into Maori, and the site where the debates and signing took place. The tour ended with a cultural performance by a group of Maori. It was engaging and exciting to see the performers dance, sing, display their battle skills. I appreciated how passionately the Maori performed, as well as how seriously the audience followed their directions and listened to their stories.
Going to Waitangi and learning about New Zealand’s history was an unforgettable experience, and really brought together my whole trip in this amazing country. Learning about Maori culture and history has certainly been one of the most interesting parts of my time here, and I plan to continue thinking about how New Zealand incorporates Maori into their curriculum and culture. The afternoon was spent in Russell, formerly known as the “hell hole of the Pacific,” now a beautiful little tourist town across the bay, and that night James, Rosie, and I played cards as the sunset and late into the night. They taught me to play Last Card, and I taught them Gin Rummy.
On a final note, there was volcanic activity on an island in New Zealand, leading to the death of five, currently, with many more people injured. I wanted to say that I am completely safe, along with the families of everyone I know here in Auckland. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments. Here is to a great last full week!
Caleb is from Madison, Wisconsin with a major in education and English and a minor in civic engagement.