Friday, December 31, 2010

A/NZ - Tauranga, New Zealand - Day 28

Tauranga is on the northern coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It goes almost without saying that Capt. James Cook was here and gave the area the name "Bay of Plenty". This area also has the name "Kiwi Coast" applied to it since much of the nation's produce is grown on the plains in this part of the island.
The entry into the harbor is dominated by Mt. Maunganui, a 750 foot high dormant volcanic cone.

Hotels and resorts are on a narrow strip of land between Mt Maunganui and the mainland.

There are walking trails around and up to the summit of Mt. Maunganui but we chose not to go there. We did all our walking in the shopping district.

Take a guess at what this is. The answer is at the end of this post.

Lots of shopping opportunities in Tauranga.

A few Christmas decorations.

While walking around, I saw this old car parked at a convenience store and had to photo it.

Much to my surprise, it was an old American Studebaker.

We next visited the Paparoa Marae. A Maori Marae is a community center where religious/cultural events of all kinds take place. Most of the Maraes in on other pacific islands were destroyed by the Christian missionaries when they arrived, but they have survived in New Zealand. They are still an important part of the Maori lifestyle.

We were given instructions on the do's and don'ts within the Marae and the welcoming ceremony that we would be given.

The Marae is laid out in a square area and enclosed by a wall. Each building has a separate function.

The ceremonial challenge by a warrior is to determine if we are friend or foe.

Once determined to be friends, we listen to welcoming words from the community Chiefs. At the conclusion of the ceremony, we are considered family.

The traditional Maori greeting is to touch noses and foreheads. What you are seeing here is the transmission of a severe cold from the Chief to Sigrid. The Chief was sneezing and coughing throughout his speech. He clutched a handkerchief as he talked. Sigrid came down with a bad cold several days later.

I was holding my breath and made it pretty brief.

The ceremony finished with song and dance.

A Maori lucky rub it for luck.

We drove up into the hills for some scenery.

Back at the harbor.

The earlier photo was pond scum. You know we can't pass up an abstract opportunity.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vaile Mansion - Independence, MO

Shortly before Christmas, Sigrid and I visited the Vaile Mansion in Independence, MO. The house, a Second Empire style of architecture, has been restored and is open to the public for tours. The home was built about 1880 and was owned by Harvey Vaile, a Kansas City Star mail route operator.

Every year, the mansion is turned over to interior designers to decorate for Christmas. I don't remember if it is a competition or just for fun, but the home is decorated out the wazoo. It has more Christmas trees inside than a Boy Scout tree lot has outside. If you don't get in the Christmas spirit after visiting this house, then you are beyond help. It is a beautiful home.

The house is a bit of a nightmare to photograph due to very dim lighting only made worse by the Christmas lighting. The chandeliers and lamps all seem to have been placed to make photos difficult. Add people touring the home that I didn't want to capture in the photos and it makes for a challenging morning.

This is the entrance.

Every room has a fireplace that was decorated.