Monday, January 25, 2010

Group Stop Blog Entry- Rachel Schnaitman

Rachel Schnaitman - The Marae Visit

I really enjoyed the visit to the Marae. Not only was it full of cultural knowledge and beauty, but it really brought about a feeling of unity and family to our group.

After arriving at the Marae we were all a little nervous and didn't know exactly what to expect but we pulled together, sang our song, and were welcomed to afternoon tea. I think eating around the same table followed by doing our own dishes really fostered a homey atmosphere and really brought us together as a group. The visit to the church past beautiful countryside was full of lots of knowledge about the Mauri faith. I really enjoyed dinner at the Marae and sampling food from a different culture. Followed by a quick cleanup we all went out to the mangroves. We learned a lot about the biology of the mangroves, found a few crabs to look at, and played around in the mud. Before bed we even got a chance to look at the stars. I have never seen so many stars in my life, it was really breathtaking. I think one of my favorite parts about the stay was the sleeping arrangements. We all slept in the same room on mattresses that were all touching. This Polynesian way of ending the day was really nice and was a great start to our time in New Zealand.

The biology at the Marae was found mainly when we explored the mangroves. The mangroves growing in New Zealand, Avicennia, are the most southern growing species in the world. These mangroves play an important ecological role and are an important food source to birds, animals, and other marine organisms. To prove this we did encounter several crab species living in the sediment around the mangroves. Though we did not see any distinctive geological features to speak of, mangroves on the shore by beaches do play a geological role. They break up waves and help prevent them from reaching the shore. They also play an important role in erosion control and shoreline protection.

Overall the Marae provided a unique cultural experience. We were allowed to share meals and lodging with a friendly sharing people who showed and taught us all about their culture. We also learned a lot about the biology of New Zealand in a unique and fun way. The Marae stay was one of my favorite and most memorable experiences so far in New Zealand.

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