One nice thing about Auckland is that the internet cafe’s are much, much cheaper. $2NZ an hour is more like it. Yea, I just arrived into one of NZ’s major cities (certainly the most populous, though not the capital) just two hours ago. It’s 11:06 local time as I write this. I’m hoping to hit the Auckland Museum; there’s an exhibit on Sue I want to check out , and supposedly plenty on Maori culture to boot…I’ve been reading up on it lately and frankly, it’s depressing because it’s so similar to cultures across the world following European expansion. Though the Maori fought a lot harder than most, on lines with the Sioux tribes in the States, I still look around and see the minorities working the counters behind McDonalds and wearing the construction hats. While I was in Pukekhoe, the same day I wrote the last post, I ended up going to a park and writing in my journal, so I’m going to transcribe it to here:
"It’s interesting how I’ve become a minority among minorities here. Of all Kiwis it’s the Maori who are more prone to doing a double-take when they see me than the Paheka. I’ve only seen two people with noticeable African blood so far and the exchanged expressions further suggests our relative rarity, especially considering I’m fairly certain one was half-Maori. I rather enjoy it, honestly. I was walking down Carter St. and a Maori driving out of a gas station gave a toothy grin and a wave, purely because it was obvious I was foreign-born.
Most Kiwis I speak to immediately peg me as an American, which made me oddly uncomfortable for some reason at first. But, being unable to truly rationalize the feeling, I put it aside and it dissipated on is own. When Mike and I stopped at a gas station to fill up on "petrol,"the Shell attendants, both East Indian, gawked at me through the windows before and after we left haha. I’ve also come to relax my perceptions of "political correctedness"ever so slightly. I find that "negro"is the term often used here. "Negro"would raise an eyebrow, depending on who said it, and in what context, back home. But I had to remember that it’s a term, a valid term, and nothing more or less than that. It generally comes up in discussions about Obama, whom Kiwis love as much as we do. I doggedly stick to "African-American," or just black, though "negro"no longer suprises me.
There aren’t any Maori who visit the monastery that I’ve seen unfortunately…I’l have to make it apoint to strike up a conversation with one while I’m i town to hear their perspective on race-relations in New Zealand as a minority. I suspect it will be something along the lines of the bitterness many Native Americans feel towards caucasians back home. Maori history up to the present day is sadly, a near mirror-image of America’s native people. Land claimage, war, broken treaties and discrimination. But the present day, like back home, does hold a silver lining, and things continue to improve."
Well at any rate, I’m having a blast. It’s summer here, so the weather is quite nice. I’ve got to decide on a hostel to check into soon after I do my email. I know, I know, you all want pictures…It’s been tricky because the computer is for monastery business only, and Ajahn Chandako is pretty serious on that. I’ve gotta get on and make a zip folder at some point to email to myself, then I can get them up here and elsewhere. I’ve got some pretty nice shots I want to share!