Monday, December 28, 2009

Blog Assignment, Katherine Fochesto

Katherine Fochesto

Horwitz's chapter in Blue Latitudes about Cook's arrival in New Zealand was
really interesting to read. In all of my social studies and history classes
throughout my life, I have learned about many explorers and their conquests
around the world. I learned about Cook and his discoveries many times, but I
never learned about his discovery of New Zealand in as much detail as this
chapter provided. I found it so interesting because Cook encountered a land so
far away from his homeland, with different people, plants, animals, and food
which is similar to what we will be experiencing in our trip to New Zealand. The
differences in culture between the Maori and the European explorers, which was
at that time as different as the two cultures would ever be, was fascinating
because one can only imagine how hard it was for both groups of people to
understand and attempt to communicate with the other.
I found it particularly interesting when Horwitz described Cook's adventures
into this new land and then brought the reader back to the present and related
his own adventures while visiting New Zealand. By switching between the past
and the present and tying them together through statues, locations and his tour
guides, it really allowed me to get an idea of how European exploration has
affected this part of the world. It seems as though the Europeans brought
violence, weapons and disease to New Zealand, while the Europeans think they
"saved" the Maori by bringing them medicine, modern conveniences and
religion. The statues of Cook that stand in New Zealand don't seem to be
appreciated by Maori people who make a point to state that Polynesian sailors
were the first to discover New Zealand, not Cook and his men.
The part of the chapter when Horwitz spent time with Anne, the Maori tour
guide, was the most interesting for me. I think it was really cool to read about
how the Maori interact with each other today. I think the hongi, or the Maori
nose-pressing greeting, was fascinating. I can't imagine Americans greeting
each other in such an intimate way. The women in the tribal office were very
outspoken in their dislike of Cook and the changes European arrival brought to
the country. The Maori are described as strong, brave people who are so proud
of their culture and their country. It is sad to read about how much they dislike
the European explorer and how they feel as though the story of Cook's arrival
has been sugarcoated to make him seem like a hero. Even the Mongrel Mob
tattooed their faces and bodies and sailed in traditional canoes to channel their
ancestors and honor their history. Bill, a member of the Mob, stated that every
country has its traditions and that theirs is a warrior tradition which I thought
was interesting because that is exactly how I pictured them in the stories of
Cook's first encounters. Their tattooed faces and intimidating dances prove how
different they were from the Europeans who arrived there with fancy clothing,
pale faces, guns and large ships which the Maori had never seen before.
During my time in New Zealand, I hope to learn as much as possible about
the country and its history. I want to learn about the Maori people who, like the
American Indians, lost much of their land and traditions throughout the course
of time due to modern technology and European influence. I want to explore the
culture of these people and experience what it is like to live in a country on the
opposite side of the world from where I have lived my entire life. I didn't know
much about the history of New Zealand before reading this chapter by Horwitz,
but I am extremely interested in learning more about the country by actually
immersing myself in New Zealanders' way of life.
I want to see the places and scenery like the ones described in the reading.
I hope I can get a lot of great pictures to record what I have experienced and
bring it home with me at the end of our trip. I also want to do things and try to
live as much like the people do in New Zealand in order to make the most of my
experience there. Rather than stick to what I am used to, I want to try new
things such as food and leisure activities and be completely open to a different
culture. By doing so, I hope that my perception of the world will be expanded
and that I can share my stories with my friends and family at home.

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